Thick-knees have a diet that consists primarily of invertebrates, animals without a backbone, such as beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, crustaceans, mollusks, snails, slugs, and worms, as well as larger vertebrate prey, animals with backbones, such as frogs, lizards, and rodents. Some thick-knees will also eat plant material, including seeds and the shoots of plants. The beach thick-knee eats large numbers of crabs. Thick-knees forage, or search for food, by walking slowly while looking for prey on the ground. Food items are picked up using their strong bills. Larger prey are broken into pieces if necessary before swallowing.

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