Spotted Dikkop (Burhinus capensis)

It is a tall, orange-brown, plover-like bird that thrives in drier habitats, avoiding the wetlands. It boasts huge yellow eyes, perfect for its nocturnal lifestyle. During the days, its puzzling plumage, allowing it to hide undercover effectively. Once the dark sets in, it comes outs again preying on insects. This bird is known for its loud, peculiar ‘ti-ti-ti-teeteetee-ti ti ti” call.

Read further to know more about the Spotted Dikkop.

What is a Spotted Dikkop?

Spotted Dikkip (Burhinus capensis), also regarded as the Spotted Thick-knee or Cape Thick-Knee, is a wader belonging to the Burhinidae family. This bird is sedentary and native to the tropical regions of central and southern Africa. It is a nocturnal species, rarely active during the day and in the afternoon. If spotted, they are often seen standing or sitting still.

Its seven levels of classification are as follows:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Charadriiformes

Family: Burhinidae

Genus: Burhinus

Species: B. capensis

Spotted Dikkop Physical Description

Spotted Dikkops are medium-sized birds, growing at nearly 15.7 to 17.9 inches or 40 to 45.5 centimeters in height. They have long legs and an orange brown-and-white-speckled plumage that serves as a camouflage, making it harder to spot on areas where it roams.

Male and female spotted dikkops look similar, they are plover-like, have large and round brown heads, yellows eyes, and a yellow and brown, short, stout beak. A dark streak runs from their eyes up to the ear covers, accentuated by a white band below the eye. Their upperparts have white, black, and brown-barred. Meanwhile, their long legs have an expanded tibiotarsal joint, which appears to be thicker, earning them the name “thick-knee.”

Where can they be spotted?

Spotted Dikkops thrive in open, flat regions of sub-Saharan Africa. These birds prefer to live in dry savanna and grassland habitats. Although, they can often be in wetlands areas, low stony hills, woodland fringes, and urban habitats, such as playing fields and parks. The species ranges starts from Senegal to Mauritania, Mali, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and East and South Africa. These birds are generally sedentary, but movements can be observed in high rainfalls area, forcing them to emigrate during summer rains.

Interesting Facts You Should Know About the Spotted Dikkop

Spotted Dikkops are nocturnal species, and hunts on the ground during the night. Their diet revolved primarily on insects, such as moths, butterflies, weevils, and beetles, small mammals, small amphibians, thread snakes, and even the eggs and chicks of white-fronted plover birds. They forage by repeatedly running forward and stopping when they spot their prey, jabbing the victim with their bill.

These birds are often found on the ground, but when they fly, they usually do it with fast wing beats. Spotted dikkops are typically found alone or in pairs. Their plumage serves as an effective camouflage, making them more challenging to be detected by predators. They can generally live up to 20 years in their natural habitats.

Spotted Dikkops are monogamous and will form life-long bonds with their partners. The male often becomes territorial and aggressive during breeding. They build their nest on a slight depression on the ground, lining it with feathers, grasses, twigs, and pebbles. Nests usually are placed under a bush as an added protection from predators. The parents will jointly incubate the eggs for about 26 days.

Both sexes will tend to the chicks, searching and bringing in food for the broods. When an intruder threatens them, the parents will take a defensive stance, spreading their wings, cocking their tails, and sometimes even pecking the unwanted guest. Their chicks will crouch down and stay motionless. Parents will often act to have a broken leg, back, or wing to lure the predators away from their chicks.

Since they are no longer regarded as a gamebird, their population is unlikely to decline in the coming years. Plus, they have a distinct ability to adapt to human alterations on their habitats. Spotted Dikkop is listed as a least concern species under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.



Central Kalahari Game Reserve

Chobe National Park

Linyanti Swamp

Makgadikgadi Pan

Mashatu Game Reserve

Okavango Delta

Moremi Game Reserve



Addo Elephant National Park

Cape Peninsula National Park

Hluhluwe Game Reserves

Kalahari Gemsbok National Park

Knysna Lagoon

Kruger National Park

Madikwe Game Reserve

St Lucia Wetlands


Caprivi Region


Etosha National Park

Namib-Naukluft National Park

Skeleton Coast



Lechwe Plains

Lower Zambezi

South Luangwa

Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park




Lake Kariba

Mana Pools

Matobo Hills

Victoria Falls

Spotted Dikkop