Skip to main content

Black-legged Kittiwake Identification

Looking for ID Help?

Our free app offers quick ID help with global coverage.

Try Merlin Bird ID

The Four Keys to ID

  • Size & Shape

    A small gull with a plump belly. Kittiwakes look sleek in flight, with rather long, narrow wings, a short, notched tail, and a slim, fairly short bill.

    Relative Size

    Larger than a Bonaparte’s Gull, slightly smaller than a Ring-billed Gull.

    Relative Sizecrow sizedcrow-sized

    • Both Sexes
      • Length: 15.0-16.1 in (38-41 cm)
      • Weight: 10.8-18.5 oz (305-525 g)
      • Wingspan: 37.0 in (94 cm)

Regional Differences

Ornithologists recognize two subspecies: the smaller tridactyla of the Arctic and North Atlantic; and the larger pollicaris of the North Pacific, in which adults have more black in the primaries than Atlantic tridactyla.