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Common name Black-legged kittiwake
Scientific name Rissa tridactyla
Type Seabirds
Status Wintering

Seabird of small size (about 40 cm or 15.5 in) and pelagic habits. Light grey upperparts, white underparts and head. Black wing tips. Yellow bill and black legs. In winter it exhibits some dark spots in the shape of a half moon in the ear zone and the nape turns greyish.


Marine environment

Where it lives

Common species in the boreal zone of the northern hemisphere with breeding populations in northern Spain. Pelagic habits in winter and rupicolous during the breeding period. It is only seen on the coast in summer.

How it lives

Occasional bird in the province, present as a wintering species and also during the migratory passage. Nest in ledges and cliffs or on roofs of buildings near the sea. Colonial. The Black-Legged Kittiwake breeds from May and lays 1 to 3 eggs. It feeds on plankton and small organisms that are near the surface of the water. This seabird is not a strict migratory species. After the breeding season ends, couples disperse into Atlantic waters.

Where it can be seen in Malaga

Scarce and very rare species in Malaga, which is always watched on the coast, either in flight or in the company of other seagulls. The main observation points of this species in the province are Punta de Calaburras (Mijas) and the fishing ports of Málaga and Caleta de Vélez.

Curious facts

The Latin name of this seagull literally means "seagull of three toes". "Rissa" comes from the Icelandic "Rita" and means "seagull". Like the Sanderling, the Black-Legged Kittiwake has lost the big toe pointing backward, or hallux, on its legs. The loss of the hallux in beach birds has a lot to do with the type of substrate they walk on. Birds that perch on trees and those that walk on hard substrates do have a hallux, although elevated with respect to the other toes facing forward.

Similar birds
Wintering Summer Resident Migration