Black-legged Kittiwake

Rissa tridactyla

This elegant and highly pelagic gull is the most numerous larid on Saint Paul (but outnumbered by Red-legged Kittiwakes on Saint George). Black-legged Kittiwakes are holarctic breeders, and have numerous colonies around the Bering Sea. When not actually engaged in breeding behaviors they spend their time offshore, mostly over the shallower waters of the continental shelf. On Saint Paul thousands of nesting pairs can be found on the cliffs of the island’s south and west shores. The cacophony of “it-ee-ache” calls can at times be almost deafening around the colony sites. Throngs of resting birds can usually be found along the sandy beaches and on the flats of the Salt Lagoon and Big Lake. Small flocks can also be found bathing in many of the freshwater lakes around the island. The all black wingtips of adult birds, lacking the pale mirrors found in most other gull wings are distinctive, as is their thin unmarked yellow bill and black legs. Early in the year (and in late summer) 1 st year Black-legs are often seen, with their dark black W across their mantle, black neck collar and black tail tip they are truly an attractive bird. For a thorough review on the separation of Black and Red-legged Kittiwakes see the account for Red-legged Kittiwake.