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 -

Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence (breeding/resident) 64,100,000 km2
Extent of Occurrence (non-breeding) 153,000,000 km2
Severely fragmented? no -
Estimate Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
Population size unknown poor estimated 2009
Population trend decreasing - estimated 1997-2036
Rate of change over the past 10 years/3 generations (longer of the two periods) 30-49% - - -
Rate of change over the future 10 years/3 generations (longer of the two periods) 30-49% - - -
Rate of change over the past & future 10 years/3 generations (longer of the two periods) 30-49% - - -
Generation length 12.9 years - - -

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

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA)
Country/Territory IBA Name
Sweden Little Middelgrund
Denmark Lille Middelgrund
Russia (Asian) Karaginskiy Island
Russia (Asian) Verkhoturova Island
Russia (Asian) Cape Oria
Russia (Asian) Iony Island
Russia (Asian) Bogoslova Island
Russia (Asian) Aniva bay
Russia (Asian) Preobrazheniya island
Russia (Asian) Kuril islands (between Urup and Paramushir)
Russia (Asian) Tyuleniy Island
Russia (Asian) Lesser Kuril Ridge and Kunashir Island
Russia (Asian) Nevskoye Lake
Russia (Asian) North-east Sakhalin lagoons
Russia (Asian) Vasiliya islands
Russia (Asian) Cape Krasniy
Russia (Asian) Dobrzhanskogo and Temchun islands
Russia (Asian) Rovnyy Island
Russia (Asian) Stolbovoy island
Canada Falaise aux Goélands and pointe de l’Est
United Kingdom Caithness Cliffs
United Kingdom Flamborough Head and Bempton Cliffs
USA Tuxedni Bay
USA Barrow Canyon & Smith Bay
USA Buldir & Near Islands Marine
USA Ilnik Marine
USA Izembek Refuge Marine
USA Lisburne Peninsula Marine
USA Prince William Sound
USA St George Island Marine
USA Unimak & Akutan Passes
USA Barren Islands Colonies
USA Buldir Island Colony
USA Cape Peirce & Cape Newenham Colonies
USA Castle Rock Colonies
USA Diomede Islands Colonies
USA Hegemeister Island Colonies
USA Pinnacle Island Colony
USA Round Island Colony
USA Semidi Islands Colonies
USA Southwest Cape Colonies
USA Spitz Island Colony
USA St George Island Colony
USA St Matthew & Hall Islands Colonies
USA Tuxedni Island Colony
Iceland Raudinupur
Iceland Drangey
Iceland Grimsey ut af Eyjafirdi
Iceland Skrudur
Iceland Ritur
Iceland Latrabjarg
Iceland Breidafjördur
Iceland Vestmannaeyjar
Iceland Krysuvikurberg
Iceland Snaefellsnes
Iceland Skoruvik-Skalabjarg
Iceland Hornbjarg & Haelavikurbjarg
Norway Slettnes
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Bjørnøya (Bear Island)
Norway Varangerfjord (including Hornøya and Reinøya)
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Hopen island
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Northeast Svalbard Nature Reserve
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) South Spitsbergen National Park
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Southeast Svalbard Nature Reserve
Norway Syltefjordstauran
Norway Omgangsstauran
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Northwest Spitsbergen National Park
Russia (Asian) Navarin Cape
Russia (Asian) Talan Island

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 breeding
Marine Neritic Macroalgal/Kelp suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Pelagic major breeding
Marine Neritic Pelagic major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Seagrass (Submerged) suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Seagrass (Submerged) suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy-Mud suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy-Mud suitable non-breeding
Marine Oceanic Epipelagic (0-200m) suitable breeding
Marine Oceanic Epipelagic (0-200m) suitable non-breeding
Marine Oceanic Mesopelagic (200-1000m) suitable breeding
Marine Oceanic Mesopelagic (200-1000m) suitable non-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
Pets/display animals, horticulture - - international non-trivial recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Rissa tridactyla. Downloaded from on 30/11/2023.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 30/11/2023.