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Black-legged Kittiwake


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A small, cliff-nesting gull, the Black-legged Kittiwake breeds along northern coasts and winters out at sea.

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Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • Medium-sized to small gull.
  • Small, unmarked yellow bill.
  • Head and underparts white.
  • Back medium gray.
  • Wingtips black, without white spots, as if dipped in ink.
  • Legs black.

Immature Description

Juvenile with white underparts, gray back, gray patches on nape and crown, dark spot at the ears, black collar, black wingtips, and a dark bar across the wing. Wings show a dark "M" pattern in flight. Tail white with a black tip. Legs black.

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Black-legged Kittiwake Range Map
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Similar Species

  • Red-legged Kittiwake very similar, but has darker wings and back, dusky underwings, a shorter and more blunt bill, and red legs. Legs of Black-legged Kittiwake occasionally are red. Immature Red-legged Kittiwake lacks black bar on wings (and "M" mark) and black tip to tail.
  • Immature Bonaparte's Gull has a narrow, broken "M" across the back and lacks the black line across the nape of its neck.
  • Immature Little Gull lacks the black line across the nape of its neck.
  • Mew Gull shows white spots in wingtips and does not have the sharp, dipped-in-ink cutoff of black.