Black-legged Kittiwake

Birdorable Black-legged Kittiwake

This week we've added another cute bird to Birdorable: the Black-legged Kittiwake. The above photo of cliffs in Ireland shows an adult Kittiwake on the left and a juvenile on the right. Juvenile individuals have black markings on the wings, neck and head. There are actually two races of Black-legged Kittiwake: one in the North Atlantic ocean and another in the North Pacific ocean.

The first one, which is common throughout Europe and the east coast of North America, has only three normal toes. Hence its latin name Rissa tridactyla, which means "three-toed". Its hind toe is reduced to a tiny bump. Kittiwakes spend most of their lives out at sea and come ashore only to breed. They actually seldom walk, so its legs are much shorter than those of other gulls. And who needs a hind toe if you hardly ever walk, right?

(#222) Black-Legged Kittiwake
Photo by tinyfishy

We often saw Black-legged Kittiwakes on the North Sea coast when we lived in the Netherlands and I always thought they were particularly cute. Here's a juvenile that we saw flying around at IJmuiden, a coastal town west of Amsterdam:

Black-legged Kittiwake
IJmuiden 030 (18-Nov).jpg
Photos by Amy Evenstad

Kittiwakes breed in large colonies on rocky cliffs and is very noisy on the breeding ground, as is evident from the video below. They are capable of utilizing the sheerest of vertical cliffs as their nesting site.

The Birdorable Kittiwake is available on t-shirts and other apparel. This is our totally cute version of the Black-legged Kittiwake!


Andrew on November 19, 2018 at 7:13 PM wrote:
black-legged kittiwake
Spurwing Plover on January 24, 2022 at 6:18 AM wrote:
Q.What did the Gull say to the Sleeping Cat? A.Kittiwake

Leave a comment

Comments with links or HTML will be deleted. Your comment will be published pending approval.
Your email address will not be published
You can unsubscribe from these communications at any time. For more information on how to unsubscribe, our privacy practices, and how we are committed to protecting and respecting your privacy, please review our Privacy Policy. By clicking submit below, you consent to allow Birdorable to store and process the personal information submitted above to provide you the content requested.

White-faced Whistling-Duck: Bridging Continents with its Range

Today’s new Birdorable is one of eight species of Whistling-Duck in the world. The White-faced Whistling-Duck joins the family! White-faced Whistling-Ducks have an interesting range that includes large areas on two continents. They are found around freshwater habitat in sub-Saharan Africa and throughout...

Winged Harbingers: The Annual Return of the Swallows to Capistrano

Every spring, a small but mighty signal marks the transition from winter to spring in San Juan Capistrano, California. We're not looking for a blooming flower, or feeling for a warm breeze -- we're awaiting the celebrated return of the swallows to Mission San Juan Capistrano. This...

Discover the Black-throated Magpie-Jay: Mexico's Long-Tailed Wonder

Meet the latest addition to Birdorable: the Black-throated Magpie-Jay joins our cute cartoon corvid family today as our 2023 Bonanza rolls on! Native to the northwestern regions of Mexico, particularly the states of Sinaloa and Nayarit, this striking bird is a visual treat with its vivid blue and white plumage and extraordinarily long tail – one of the longest of any type of corvid.

2020 Bonanza Bird #12: Pink-headed Fruit Dove

Today’s new addition to Birdorable is a colorful species in the dove family. The Pink-headed Fruit Dove joins our Birdorable Pigeons and Doves! Pink-headed Fruit Doves are easily recognized by their pinkish purple heads and green backs. Their breasts have a spiffy...