Bird Species of the World's Boreal Forests


Rissa tridactyla
Black-legged Kittiwake


Distinguishing Features - Medium-sized gull; length: 40 - 56 cm. Colouration: white head, neck, breast, and belly; gray back and upperwings; dark eye; thin white tertial crescent; bill, bright yellow unmarked , relatively slim with indistinct gonydeal angle; primary tips, black with no white spots; tail, white with black terminal band; legs, black. Sexes similar.


Black-legged Kittiwake Circumpolar; breeds on the shores of the Arctic Ocean in Alaska and northernmost Canada, to Newfoundland and Labrador, and northern Russia and Scandinavia; southern range extends south along British Columbia coast and Canada's east coast through the Maritimes; wanders widely over salt water; nests in colonies on ledges beside the sea.


Scavanger; natural diet includes aquatic life - fish, crustaceans, insects and, sometimes, the eggs and young of other species; like gulls, kittiwakes are bold scavengers, feeding on many things it can find, including carrion.


Only the Red-legged Kittiwake Rissa brevirostris shares the solid black wingtips and plain yellow bill of the adult Black-legged Kittiwake. The adult Red-legged Kittiwake has a darker mantle, shorter bill, darker color underprimaries, and red legs. Immature Black-legged Kittiwakes have bold wing patterns that are similar to immature Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus but have a distinctive black collar. Immature Red-legged Kittiwakes lack a black tail band and dark carpal bar.

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