Rissa tridactyla - Black-legged kittiwake:

Summary Information
Living Organisms / Animalia / Craniata / Aves / Ciconiiformes / Laridae / Rissa / Species

This section is currently predominantly used in Wildpro to link different data types and demonstrate inter-relationships. Although it identifies that taxonomic interrelationships of species (see "header") it does not currently contain detailed information on the bird species itself. As Wildpro is developed, we will gradually convert these pages into full Species pages.

The taxonomy of birds is still under review and the A World Checklist of Birds by Burt L. Monroe, Jr and Charles G. Sibley (B89) has been chosen as the primary reference. The taxonomic structure will be amended when new editions or complete references are identified by the scientific world as the recognized primary references for taxonomy.

Alternative Names
Distribution Northern holarctic; winters to northern Africa, southern United States (B89)
  • London: In the London Area, "regular, but scarce, passage migrant and winter visitor." Usually only a few birds at any one time, although in 1999 about 1,000 moved through the London area in February. (J322.65.w1)
Habitat Breeding - "Coastal; nests on cliffs, occasionally on buildings" (B163)
Further Information Appearance: 
  • Length: 37-42 cm (B164)
  • Wingspan:93-105 cm (B164)
  • Bill: yellowish. (B164); lemon yellow. (B17) Black in immature. (B164)
  • Eyes: Dark. (B164)
  • Feet and legs: Rather short. Usually dark brown/blackish can be red, orange or flesh coloured. (B164) Black (B17)
  • Plumage: Mainly white, with pale grey, black-tipped wings (B17, B164)
  • Juvenile has blackish collar and "M" of "W" mark across wings (but plain pale grey back). (B17, B164)
  • food - mainly fish, sometimes aquatic invertebrates
  • feeding behaviour - mainly skims, sometimes surface dips


  • location and structure - cliff nesting; saucer (seaweed and mud cemented to cliff)
  • nest building - by male and female
  • breeding structure - monogamous


  • markings - patterned
  • number of eggs - 2 (1-3)
  • broods - one brood
  • incubation - by male and female; 25-32 days


  • development - Semi-precocial; stays in nest; fed by parents
  • parental caring for young - by male and female
  • fledging - 35-54 days

(B163, B164)

Organisations (UK Contacts):

Electronic Library (further reading):

General Legislation:

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Individual techniques:

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