Thai National Parks

Species of Thailand

Indian thick-knee

Burhinus indicus, Adelardo Tommaso Salvadori Paleotti, 1865

(In Thai: นกกระแตผีเล็ก)

The Indian stone-curlew or Indian thick-knee (Burhinus indicus) is a species of bird in the family Burhinidae. It was formerly included as a subspecies of the Eurasian stone-curlew. This species is found in the plains of South and South-eastern Asia. They have large eyes and are brown with streaks and pale marks making it hard to spot against the background of soils and rocks. Mostly active in the dark, they produce calls similar to the true curlews, giving them their names.


This stocky and brown ground bird with large eyes is about 41 centimeters in length. It has dark streaks on a sandy brown ground colour and is plover-like. The large head has a dark stripe bordering a creamy moustachial stripe below the eye. There is also a narrow creamy supercilium. The legs are stout and the knees are thick, giving them the group of name of "thick-knee". They have large yellow eyes. The sexes are alike and the immature is paler than adult with more marked buff and streaks on the underparts. In flight, they have two prominent white and a white patch on the darker primaries and at rest a broad pale band is visible on the wing.

The Indian stone curlew is active mainly at dawn and dusk and it calls mainly at night. The call is a series of sharp whistling notes pick-pick-pick-pick ending sometimes like pick-wick, pick-wick. They are found in small groups and during the day, they are found standing still under the shade of bush.


This species was earlier treated as a subspecies of Burhinus oedicnemus but the Indian population was distinctive in plumage, and non-migratory, leading to its being treated as a full species by Pamela Rasmussen in 2005. There has however been no major phylogenetic study of the genus.


Found in dry deciduous forests and thorn forest, scrubby riverbeds, groves and even gardens.


This species is restricted to Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam, where it occurs in thin dry deciduous forest, scrub, stony hillsides and fallow lands.


The breeding season is mainly March and April. The normal clutch is 2 to 3 stone colored eggs laid inside a scrape on bare ground, sometimes at the base of a bush. The eggs are incubate mainly by the female with male standing guard nearby. The nidifugous chicks are downy and cryptically coloured and follow the parents soon after hatching. The young chicks freeze and crouch when alarmed and the cryptic plumage make them hard to detect.


The diet mainly consists of insects, worms and small reptiles and occasionally some seeds.

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Category / Seasonal Status

BCST Category: Recorded in an apparently wild state within the last 50 years

BCST Seasonal statuses:

  • Resident or presumed resident
  • Possibly non-breeding visitor

Scientific classification

Burhinus indicus

Common names

  • Thai: นกกระแตผีเล็ก


  • Burhinus oedicnemus indicus
  • Oedicnemus indicus

Conservation status

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Least Concern (BCST)


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Indian thick-knee - Kaeng Krachan District, Phetchaburi
Indian thick-knee - Kaeng Krachan District, Phetchaburi
Indian thick-knee
Indian stone-curlew
Indian thick-knee

Range Map

Distribution map of Indian thick-knee, Burhinus indicus in Thailand
  • Ban Lat District, Phetchaburi
  • Bangkok Province
  • Bueng Boraped Non-Hunting Area
  • Kaeng Khoi District, Saraburi
  • Kaeng Krachan District, Phetchaburi
  • Kaeng Krachan National Park
  • Kamphaeng Saen District, Nakhon Pathom
  • Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park
  • Kui Buri National Park
  • Laem Pak Bia
  • Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai
  • Mueang Lampang District, Lampang
  • Mueang Phetchaburi District, Phetchaburi
  • Mueang Samut Songkhram District, Samut Songkhram
  • Mueang Tak District, Tak
  • Nong Ya Plong District, Phetchaburi
  • Pak Phli District, Nakhon Nayok
  • Phimai District, Nakhon Ratchasima
  • Phutthamonthon District, Nakhon Pathom
  • Pran Buri District, Prachuap Khiri Khan
  • Si Racha District, Chonburi
  • Taphan Hin District, Phichit
  • Tha Yang District, Phetchaburi
Range map of Burhinus indicus in Thailand