Black-legged Kittiwake

photo by Phil Swanson

Rissa tridactyla
L 17″ (43 cm) W 36″ (91 cm).

Song or calls:
Kittiwake” cry.

Description: Sexes similar. Breeding adult is gray above with a white head and underparts; dark eye; unmarked yellow bill; and black legs. Wing tips are black. Winter adult is similar to breeding adult but head is smudged with black. First winter bird has a black half-collar; entirely black bill; black spot behind eye; and black on wings.

Behavior: Nests in large colonies, sometimes numbering in the millions.

Habitat: Usually found on open oceans, and nests on cliffs.

Where in Nebraska: A rare fall migrant. Most often seen at Gavin’s Point Dam.

Fun Facts: The Black-legged Kittiwake is the only gull that dives and swims underwater to capture food.

juvenile Black-legged Kittiwake - photo by Phil Swanson Black-legged Kittiwake - photo by Phil Swanson
(click image for larger view)