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Senegal Thick-knee Burhinus senegalensis
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend is not known, but the population is not believed to be decreasing sufficiently rapidly to approach the thresholds under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Trend justification
The population trend is difficult to determine because of uncertainty over the extent of threats to the species (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

Behaviour This species is mostly sedentary but may undertake seasonal movements in parts of West Africa in relation to flooding and drought (both of which cause the species to move out of an area) (del Hoyo, et al. 1996). In Nigeria it undertakes local movements only, corresponding to water level changes, and in other parts of its range it does not migrate (Urban, et al. 1986). It is commonly found in pairs or small parties of up to six individuals (flocks occasionally exceed 20-60 individuals on the River Nile in Egypt (del Hoyo, et al. 1996)), but in the breeding season nesting pairs become territorial and usually disperse to nest singly (Cramp and Simmons 1983). In the Nile Delta, the species commonly nests in small colonies however, with up to 21 nests recorded on the roof of one house. The timing of the breeding season varies according to locality (Urban, et al. 1986, del Hoyo, et al. 1996), but it usually occurs before the rains in areas with seasonal rainfall (del Hoyo, et al. 1996). The species is mainly nocturnal, but is often crepuscular (Cramp and Simmons 1983, Urban, et al. 1986), sometimes foraging in the twilight hours of morning and evening (Cramp and Simmons 1983). Habitat This species occupies a wide variety of open land with sparse or no vegetation, including savanna and woodland clearings, open orchards, sandy or stony ground amidst thorny scrub, gardens in towns and villages (Cramp and Simmons 1983, Hayman, et al. 1986), gravel roads (Urban, et al. 1986), burnt woodland and semi-arid grassland (del Hoyo, et al. 1996). It is always found in the close proximity to water, especially on sandy riverbeds, riverside mudbanks, rocks mid-stream (Cramp and Simmons 1983, Hayman, et al. 1986), lake shores, mangroves (Urban, et al. 1986), grassy flats beside rivers and irrigated fields (del Hoyo, et al. 1996). It avoids steep broken terrain, desert and tall, dense vegetation, either in wetland or forest (Cramp and Simmons 1983). Diet This species is carnivorous and feeds exclusively on land (del Hoyo, et al. 1996), its diet consisting mainly of insects (e.g. beetles, grasshoppers) and crustaceans, but also of molluscs, worms, frogs, tadpoles and small rodents (Cramp and Simmons 1983, Urban, et al. 1986). Breeding site The nest of this species is a shallow scrape positioned on bare ground, sand-banks, the top of low flat rocks or on rocky islets in rivers (Cramp and Simmons 1983). It has also been recorded nesting on the flat roofs of buildings in Egypt (Cramp and Simmons 1983).

This species is threatened by habitat loss and degradation in Ghana wetlands owing to coastal erosion and proposed developments involving drainage and land reclamation (Ntiamoa-Baidu 1991). Utilisation The species is hunted and traded at traditional medicine markets in Nigeria (Nikolaus 2001).

Cramp, S.; Simmons, K. E. L. 1983. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic vol. III: waders to gulls. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1996. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Delany, S.; Scott, D. 2006. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Hayman, P.; Marchant, J.; Prater, A. J. 1986. Shorebirds. Croom Helm, London.

Nikolaus, G. 2001. Bird exploitation for traditional medicine in Nigeria. Malimbus 23: 45-55.

Ntiamoa-Baidu, Y. 1991. Seasonal changes in the importance of coastal wetlands in Ghana for wading birds. Biological Conservation 57: 139-158.

Urban, E. K.; Fry, C. H.; Keith, S. 1986. The birds of Africa vol. II. Academic Press, London.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Malpas, L.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Burhinus senegalensis. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Burhinidae (Thick-knees)
Species name author (Swainson, 1837)
Population size 13000-33000 mature individuals
Population trend Unknown
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 7,040,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change