Black-legged Kittiwake Life History


Habitat OceansNests on cliff ledges of offshore islands, sea stacks, or inaccessible areas of coastal mainland. Winters at sea.Back to top


Food FishFish and some marine invertebrates.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Cliff

Nest Description

Nest composed of wet and dry vegetation and mud (sometimes seaweed, feathers, and barnacles) on top of mud/vegetation platform. Placed on ledge of steep cliff. Nests in colonies.

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size:1-3 eggs
Egg Description:Brown, blue, gray, olive or tan, with dark brown-gray speckling.
Condition at Hatching:Alert and mobile, covered with white and gray down.
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Behavior DabblerFeeds in flocks at water surface, mostly in daytime; may dive (shallowly) or snatch food from surface.Back to top


Conservation Low ConcernBlack-legged Kittiwake populations appear stable. The North American Waterbird Conservation Plan estimates 3,126,000 breeding birds in North America and rates them an 8 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. They are not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List.Back to top


Hatch, Scott A., Gregory J. Robertson and Pat Herron Baird. 2009. Black-legged Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Kushlan, J. A., M. J. Steinkamp, K. C. Parsons, J. Capp, M. A. Cruz, M. Coulter, I. Davidson, L. Dickson, N. Edelson, R. Elliott, R. M. Erwin, S. Hatch, S. Kress, R. Milko, S. Miller, K. Mills, R. Paul, R. Phillips, J. E. Saliva, W. Sydeman, J. Trapp, J. Wheeler and K. Wohl (2002). Waterbird conservation for the Americas: The North American waterbird conservation plan, version 1. Washington, DC, USA. 

Lutmerding, J. A. and A. S. Love. Longevity records of North American birds. Version 2015.2. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2015.

North American Bird Conservation Initiative. 2014. The State of the Birds 2014 Report. US Department of Interior, Washington, DC, USA.

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley guide to birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, USA.

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