Urban Bush Thickknees

To: "Peter Shute" <>
Subject: Urban Bush Thickknees
From: peter crow <>
Date: Thu, 17 Apr 2008 13:51:28 +1000

I don't have the time or the interest to look up all the field guides to answer you question but if you should check some world bird lists you "may" find that other birds of the family in distant lands are know as thick knees.

As far as I can recall when BA recommended thick knee there was a major uproar and soon after the name reverted to curlew with the stone prefix to distinguish them from the other curlew the migratory waders or shore birds.


On 17/04/2008, at 10:56 AM, Peter Shute wrote:

Forgetting the problem of birds not having knees, I'd be interested to
know which editions of which field guides called them Thick-knees, and
what they called them before that.  And did they change from Curlew to
Thick-knee to Stone-curlew, or was there a Stone-curlew period between
Curlew and Thick-knee?

And what's the most recent field guide that calls them Thick-knees?

A quick search of previous discussions about this in the archives tells me that Thick-knee was around from at least 1978 to 1989 but the period could be longer than that, plus many people wouldn't have replaced those
field guides for many years after.  Perhaps it's just that a lot of
birders started birding in that period and don't feel like changing.

Peter Shute

Greg & Val Clancy wrote on Thursday, 17 April 2008 10:10 AM:

Hi Peter,

The name 'Thick-knee' is not only an unpleasant sounding name
it is also
wrong.  Birds don't have knees and the joint that is
equivalent to the knee
in humans is well hidden by feathers.  The joint often
considered to be the
'knee' i.e. the joint between the tibia and the tarsus is actually
equivalent to the human ankle.  Maybe 'Thick-knee' refers to
the hidden
joint at the top of the tibia but regardless of this
Australian birds have
been officially known as Stone-curlews for a very long time.
The name was
changed to 'Thick-knee' for a short time and it was picked up
by the field
guides.  I am blown away by the broad adoption of 'Thick-knee' as
conservative birdos are usually reluctant to accept new
official names, but
not in this case.

Both editions of Christidis and Boles (1994 and 2007) have retained
'Stone-curlew' as the second part of the common name for both species
in Australia.

Greg Clancy

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU