© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, Kari Pihlaviita, M. & W. von Wright: Svenska fåglar (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland). Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.


Rissa tridactyla

  • Name also: Black-legged Kittiwake
  • Family: Gulls – Laridae
  • Appearance: Slender gulls, similar in size to Black-headed Gull, but with plumage resembling Common Gull. Rapid, stiff wingbeats and rounded primary wing feathers make flight more tern-like than the flight of most other gulls.
  • Size: Length 37–42 cm, wingspan 93–105 cm, weight 300–520 g.
  • Nest: Built on cliff ledges around the North Atlantic, also on window-ledges in some coastal villages and in holes in buildings. Nest made artfully of moss and feathers.
  • Breeding: 1–3 eggs laid from mid May, incubated by both parents for 24–28 days. Fledglings learn to fly within 35–49 days.
  • Distribution: Breeds in large colonies of up to 100,000 pairs. Does not nest in Finland.
  • Migration: Individual birds blown off course are seen annually in Finland, especially after westerly gales.
  • Diet: Fish and other sea creatures.
  • Calls: A shrill, rhythmic, nasal, tri-syllabic cry.
  • Endangerment: European red list status Vulnerable.

Kittiwakes resemble Common Gulls, but their black wingtips have no white markings. The primary wing feathers near their wingtips are paler grey than their backs and wing coverts. Their tails are slightly forked. Juvenile Kitiwakes have distinctive V-shaped black markings on their wings, a black band on the back of the neck, and a black band on the slightly concave tip of their otherwise white tail.

Kittiwakes have blackish legs. Their beaks are greenish yellow (adults) or blackish (juveniles). They have dark brown irises and an orange eye ring.

Other species from the same family

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