Rissa tridactyla | Black-legged Kittiwake | Saidhbhéar



Conservation status

This species is Red-listed according to Birds of Conservation Concern in Ireland 2020-2026 and is of high conservation value as a result.

The Kittiwake is classified as ‘Vulnerable’ on a global scale, according to the last IUCN Red List assessment in 2018. Additionally, the population trend continues to decline.

Species Biology


The Kittiwake is a small-medium sized gull sporting a grey back, white underparts, dark eye and yellow bill.

It has black legs (hence the name) and black wing tips that contrast with their mostly grey wings.

It stands at a height of 38-40 cm with a wingspan of 95-110 cm and its weight ranges from 300-500 grams. 


Being a marine bird, it mostly feeds on marine invertebrates and fish either by hunting or through bycatch and waste from commercial fishing activities. 


Most commonly seen on coastal cliffs along the Irish coast during the summer months.


This species lays a clutch of two eggs, each weighing approximately 50 grams and incubates them for 25-32 days.

The young will fledge after 33-54 days.

The typical life expectancy for a wild Kittiwake is 12 years, with breeding beginning at around 4 years.


World distribution(GBIF)

Irish distribution

Summer visitor to Irish coastal cliffs and headlands. Moves out towards open ocean during the winter months. 

Temporal change

Records submitted to Data Centre in 2023

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