Any worthwhile discussion of baby birds will wisely lean heavily towards young shorebirds, which are surely among the most adorable of all immature avifauna.  And despite our evident New World bias here at 10,000 Birds, we have a fondness for Old World shorebirds like thick-knees.  We’ve shared plenty of pictorals of adult thick-knees, also known as stone-curlews or Dikkops, from Senegal Thick-knee (here)  to Beach Stone-curlew (here) to Bush Thick-knee (here and here). But thick-knee babies are the cutest Charadriiforms you’d ever want to see.

Baby Spotted Dikkop

Mervyn van Rooyen in South Africa experienced the wonder of a wee thick-knee in a way very few of us ever will. One could have been just another cat-triggered tragedy (keep your cats indoors) turned into an unforgettable experience…

My wife and I (retired) had a truly wonderful experience at the end of 2011 when our cat brought in a newly hatched Dikkop. We raised this little fella to a young adult. I had to put Pro-Nutro on my tongue and and lift his beak in order to get him to eat he was so young. He lived with us for eight weeks and six days and had the run of the garden at night. We knew he would leave once he could fly and a week after he finally got off the ground he was gone. This is what we wanted but it made us very sad! He became very special over those few weeks. He wasn’t allowed in the house but every now and then we would hear a “piep, piep, peep” and we’d know he was inside calling us. He actually didn’t like to be alone and even made friends with the cat who would sit with him for hours. A very special experience!! The best is he has been back to visit three times but always kept his distance.

Mervyn shared some of Dikkie the Spotted Dikkop’s baby pictures:

Presenting Dikkie the Spotted Dikkop

Eggs for breakfast

Worms for lunch

We bought him a mirror because he kept looking at his reflection in the glass of the door

A second after this photo was taken he grabbed the cat by the tail, but only for a fraction
of a second because he received a stiff clout from the cat.

Showing off to my wife. He only did this for her. It didn’t seem
aggressive – he seemed to be communicating with her.

I swear he was saying goodbye here. This was taken the last full day he was with us.

 Dikkie (that’s the name we gave him – and he would come running when I called him!) was just delightful! With a name like Dikkop, I expected him to be stupid because Dikkop means Thick Head, but that was certainly not the case! In actual fact, the last Sunday morning he was with us he had a late morning sleep with us in bed! Unfortunately no photos of that. He came looking for us — presumably because we were late in getting up. My wife said, “Put a towel on the bed (for reasons you will know) and let him spend time with us here.” I put an old towel on the bed between us and put my hand on top of him which he always liked and we all had a snooze!


Many thanks to Mervyn for sharing this terrific tale! All photos © Mervyn van Rooyen.


Baby Bird Week is our celebration of the young, the cute, the adorable, the twee. We certainly spend enough time on adult birds here on 10,000 Birds so we figured it would only make sense to fawn over the fuzzy bundles of fluff that grow up to become the objects of our fascination. Whether you seek out waterfowl, songbirds, or seabirds we will have baby birds to match your obsession.

Baby Bird Week will run from 15-21 July, Sunday until Saturday. Make sure to check back every day or even multiple times a day to keep up with all the baby bird goodness!


Written by Mike
Mike is a leading authority in the field of standardized test preparation, but he's also a traveler who fully expects to see every bird in the world. Besides founding 10,000 Birds in 2003, Mike has also created a number of other entertaining but now extirpated nature blog resources, particularly the Nature Blog Network and I and the Bird.