Black-legged Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla


Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Cramp, S. and Simmons, K.E.L. (eds). 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.
SACC. 2005 and updates. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #

IUCN Red list criteria met and history
Red List criteria met
Critically Endangered Endangered Vulnerable
- - A2abd+3bd+4abd

Red List history
Year Category Criteria
2018 Vulnerable A2abd+3bd+4abd
2017 Vulnerable A2abd+3bd+4abd
2016 Least Concern
2012 Least Concern
2010 Least Concern
2009 Least Concern
2008 Least Concern
2004 Least Concern
2000 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1994 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1988 Lower Risk/Least Concern
Species attributes

Migratory status full migrant Forest dependency Does not normally occur in forest
Land mass type Average mass -
Extent of occurrence (EOO)

Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 64,100,000
Extent of Occurrence non-breeding (km2) 153,000,000
Number of locations -
Fragmentation -
Population and trend
Estimate Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals poor estimated 2009
Population trend Decreasing estimated -
Decline (3 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (5 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation future) 30-49 - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation past and future) 30-49 - - -
Number of subpopulations - - -
Largest subpopulations - - -
Generation length (yrs) 12.9 - - -

Population justification: The global population is estimated to number c. 14,600,000-15,700,000 (Wetlands International 2016). The European population is estimated at 1,730,000-2,200,000 pairs, which equates to 3,460,000-4,410,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015).

Trend justification: Data collated from across Europe for the European Red List of Birds (BirdLife International 2015) indicate that the species has declined significantly in recent years, and that this decline is ongoing. A combination of official data reported by 27 EU Member States to the European Commission under Article 12 of the EU Birds Directive and comparable data from other European countries, provided by BirdLife Partners and other leading national ornithologists, suggests that the European population has declined markedly since the 1980s, and is currently estimated and projected to be declining overall at a rate of >40% over three generations (39 years). This corresponds well with the significant long-term decline reported by Berglund and Hentati-Sundberg (2014). Based on the latest population estimates (Coulson 2011, Wetlands International 2012), Europe (including Greenland) holds >50% of the global population. The small Canadian Arctic population is increasing by 1% per year (Mallory et al. 2009, Gaston et al. 2012), but as in Europe, the species’s breeding productivity in Alaska has declined since the 1980s, and numbers have decreased sharply in some colonies, possibly as a result of a regime shift in the North Pacific (Hatch 2013). At the regional scale of North America, which includes the populations breeding in the Northwestern Atlantic (c. 5% of the global population) and in the Northeastern Pacific (c. 15% of the global population), the species has recently been assessed as either stable or having undergone only a small decline (<15%) (North American Bird Conservation Initiative 2016). A recent analysis appears to show that the population in the North Pacific declined rapidly in the 1990s but has since recovered (Descamps et al. 2017). Global trends presented in the paper, however, appear to show that since 1975 the population size has declined by c.40%, which would place the global decline in the range of 30-49% over three generations (39 years).

Country/territory distribution
Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Resident Breeding Non-breeding Passage
Afghanistan U Extant
Algeria N Extant
Antigua and Barbuda V Extant
Austria N Extant Yes
Bahamas N Extant
Barbados V Extant
Belarus V Extant
Belgium N Extant
Belize V Extant
Bulgaria V Extant Yes
Canada N Extant Yes Yes
Cape Verde N Extant
Cayman Islands (to UK) V Extant
China (mainland) N Extant
Côte d'Ivoire U Extant
Croatia V Extant
Cuba V Extant
Cyprus V Extant
Czechia V Extant Yes
Denmark N Extant Yes Yes
Dominica V Extant
Dominican Republic V Extant
Egypt V Extant
Estonia V Extant
Faroe Islands (to Denmark) N Extant Yes
France N Extant Yes Yes
Gambia V Extant
Germany N Extant Yes Yes
Gibraltar (to UK) N Extant Yes
Greece N Extant Yes
Greenland (to Denmark) N Extant Yes
Guadeloupe (to France) V Extant
Guinea U Extant
Guinea-Bissau U Extant
Haiti V Extant
Hungary V Extant
Iceland N Extant Yes
Iran, Islamic Republic of V Extant Yes
Ireland N Extant Yes
Israel V Extant Yes
Italy N Extant Yes
Jamaica V Extant
Japan N Extant
Jordan V Extant
Kazakhstan V Extant
Kyrgyzstan V Extant
Latvia V Extant
Lebanon V Extant Yes
Liberia U Extant
Lithuania N Extant Yes
Luxembourg V Extant
Malta V Extant
Martinique (to France) V Extant
Mauritania N Extant
Mexico N Extant
Monaco U Extant
Mongolia V Extant
Montenegro V Extant
Montserrat (to UK) V Extant
Morocco N Extant
Netherlands N Extant Yes
North Korea N Extant
North Macedonia V Extant
Norway N Extant Yes
Oman V Extant Yes
Peru V Extant
Poland N Extant Yes
Portugal N Extant Yes
Puerto Rico (to USA) V Extant Yes
Romania V Extant Yes
Russia N Extant Yes
Russia (Asian) N Extant Yes
Russia (Central Asian) V Extant
Russia (European) N Extant Yes
Senegal V Extant
Serbia V Extant
Sierra Leone U Extant
Slovakia N Extant Yes
Slovenia N Extant Yes
South Africa V Extant
South Korea N Extant
Spain N Extant Yes
St Kitts and Nevis V Extant
St Lucia V Extant
St Pierre and Miquelon (to France) N Extant Yes
St Vincent and the Grenadines V Extant
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) N Extant Yes
Sweden N Extant Yes
Switzerland N Extant
Syria V Extant Yes
Trinidad and Tobago V Extant
Tunisia N Extant
Turkey N Extant Yes
Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK) V Extant
Ukraine V Extant
United Arab Emirates V Extant Yes
United Kingdom N Extant Yes
USA N Extant Yes
Uzbekistan V Extant
Virgin Islands (to UK) V Extant
Virgin Islands (to USA) V Extant
Western Sahara N Extant

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA)
Country/Territory IBA Name
Canada Falaise aux Goélands and pointe de l’Est
Denmark Lille Middelgrund
Iceland Breidafjördur
Iceland Drangey
Iceland Grímsey, Eyjafirdi
Iceland Hornbjarg & Haelavikurbjarg
Iceland Krýsuvíkurberg
Iceland Látrabjarg
Iceland Raudinupur
Iceland Riturinn
Iceland Skoruvik-Skalabjarg
Iceland Skrúdur
Iceland Snaefellsnes
Iceland Vestmannaeyjar
Ireland Horn Head cliffs
Japan Aniva bay / Esashi, Menashidomari / Teurito island - Marine
Japan Daikokujima islet / Kunashir island / Shiretoko, Mount Syari-dake - Marine
Norway Andotten
Norway Kongsøy
Norway Omgangsstauran
Norway Slettnes
Norway Sværholtklubben
Norway Syltefjordstauran
Norway Varangerfjord (including Hornøya and Reinøya)
Russia (Asian) Aniva bay
Russia (Asian) Bogoslova Island
Russia (Asian) Cape Krasniy
Russia (Asian) Cape Oria
Russia (Asian) Dobrzhanskogo and Temchun islands
Russia (Asian) Iony Island
Russia (Asian) Karaginskiy Island
Russia (Asian) Kuril islands (between Urup and Paramushir)
Russia (Asian) Lesser Kuril Ridge and Kunashir Island
Russia (Asian) Navarin Cape
Russia (Asian) Nevskoye Lake
Russia (Asian) North-east Sakhalin lagoons
Russia (Asian) Odyan bay
Russia (Asian) Preobrazheniya island
Russia (Asian) Rovnyy Island
Russia (Asian) Stolbovoy island
Russia (Asian) Talan Island
Russia (Asian) Tyuleniy Island
Russia (Asian) Vasiliya islands
Russia (Asian) Verkhoturova Island
Spain Costa da Morte
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Bjørnøya (Bear Island)
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Fuglefjella
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Hopen island
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Ingeborgfjellet
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Jan Mayen island
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Kvalhovden & Sjukovskifjella
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Midterhuken & Eholmen
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Nordre Isfjorden
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Northeast Svalbard Nature Reserve
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Northwest Spitsbergen National Park
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Sassen-Bünsow Land
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) South Spitsbergen National Park
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Southeast Svalbard Nature Reserve
Sweden Little Middelgrund
United Kingdom Caithness Cliffs
United Kingdom Flamborough Head and Bempton Cliffs
USA Barren Islands Colonies
USA Barrow Canyon & Smith Bay
USA Bering Sea Shelf Edge 166W55N
USA Buldir & Near Islands Marine
USA Buldir Island Colony
USA Cape Peirce & Cape Newenham Colonies
USA Castle Rock Colonies
USA Chukchi Sea Nearshore
USA Diomede Islands Colonies
USA Hegemeister Island Colonies
USA Icy Cape Marine
USA Ilnik Marine
USA Izembek Refuge Marine
USA Lisburne Peninsula Marine
USA Pinnacle Island Colony
USA Prince William Sound
USA Round Island Colony
USA Semidi Islands Colonies
USA Southwest Cape Colonies
USA Spitz Island Colony
USA St George Island Colony
USA St George Island Marine
USA St Matthew & Hall Islands Colonies
USA Tuxedni Bay
USA Tuxedni Island Colony
USA Unimak & Akutan Passes

Habitats & altitude
Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Marine Coastal/Supratidal Sea Cliffs and Rocky Offshore Islands major breeding
Marine Intertidal Rocky Shoreline marginal breeding
Marine Intertidal Sandy Shoreline and/or Beaches, Sand Bars, Spits, Etc marginal breeding
Marine Intertidal Tidepools marginal breeding
Marine Neritic Macroalgal/Kelp suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Macroalgal/Kelp suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Pelagic major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Pelagic major breeding
Marine Neritic Seagrass (Submerged) suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Seagrass (Submerged) suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy-Mud suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy-Mud suitable breeding
Marine Oceanic Epipelagic (0-200m) suitable non-breeding
Marine Oceanic Epipelagic (0-200m) suitable breeding
Marine Oceanic Mesopelagic (200-1000m) suitable non-breeding
Marine Oceanic Mesopelagic (200-1000m) suitable breeding
Altitude   Occasional altitudinal limits  

Threats & impact
Threat (level 1) Threat (level 2) Impact and Stresses
Biological resource use Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources - Unintentional effects: (large scale) [harvest] Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 5
Indirect ecosystem effects, Species mortality
Climate change & severe weather Habitat shifting & alteration Timing Scope Severity Impact
Future Majority (50-90%) Rapid Declines Low Impact: 5
Indirect ecosystem effects, Ecosystem degradation
Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases Viral/prion-induced diseases - Avian Influenza Virus (H5N1 subtype) Timing Scope Severity Impact
Future Minority (<50%) Unknown Unknown
Species mortality
Pollution Industrial & military effluents - Oil spills Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Declines Medium Impact: 6
Ecosystem degradation, Reduced reproductive success, Species mortality

Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Food - human - - Non-trivial Recent
Food - human - - Non-trivial Recent
Pets/display animals, horticulture - - International Non-trivial Recent
Pets/display animals, horticulture - - International Non-trivial Recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Rissa tridactyla. Downloaded from on 09/12/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 09/12/2019.