Eurasian Thick-knee (Burhinus oedicnemus) in Croatia´s karstic landscape

TrielOn the southern edge of the island Pag you can enjoy the ample stony lowlands of the island´s disorientating karstic landscape. With large, sideways eyes, the Eurasian Thick-knee peers into the twilight. It is still almost dark; only the first glimmer of the morning over the mountains on the coast of Croatia is visible. A family group of Eurasian Thick-knees stands quietly on the edge of a gravel road. It is the two parents and a young one. The feathers of the young Eurasian Thick-knee are still standing on and off on the head. As the car slowly approaches and then stops, the Eurasian Thick-kneee runs without too much haste into the wide landscape of the karstic steppe. A little later they are swallowed by darkness.

It is just a coincidence that on the way back, a revival is possible. A former farmyard is covered with higher grasses. Suddenly, one Eurasian Thick-knee appears. Before, the bird was so well hidden in the grass-stone mosaic that one of the Eurasian Thick-knee parents’ now stands only 10 meters from the car. The bird remains motionless. The reason is obvious a little later. A young bird with its up and down standing feathers on its head stands between the grasses. If the Eurasian Thick-knee parents were alone, they would have just been sitting until danger has disappeared. But now they stand still for a while. Then the family retreats behind a stone wall and can not be seen anymore.

On the island of Pag in Croatia the Eurasian Thick-knee breeds in open wasteland areas as typical for the karstic island. Of importance for the breed selection is the state of vegetation. A small degree of coverage is indispensable; The birds good camouflage and behavioral pattern – its main activity in the twilight and the darkness – help him to get on with the terrain, which – at first glance – do not invite big helpless birds. Especially at the beginning of the breeding season, a proximity to different types of waterbodies seems to be important.

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