Black-legged Kittiwake: Medium-sized white gull with pale gray back and upperwings and black wing tips. Bill is yellow, legs and feet are black. Swift graceful flight, alternates several rapid shallow wing beats with a glide. Often hovers over water before diving for prey at surface.
Range and Habitat
Black-legged Kittiwake: Breeds in north Pacific, Arctic Ocean, and Atlantic south to Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Spends winters from edge of sea ice southward, rarely to Gulf of Mexico; also in Eurasia. Nests on ledges of offshore islands, sea stacks, or inaccessible areas on coastal mainland.
The Black-legged Kittiwake is the only gull that dives and swims underwater to capture food. The name "kittiwake" is derived from the bird's peculiar cry, a shrill 'kittee-wa-aaake, kitte-wa-aaake'.
They are not commonly seen from shore, and generally spend the entire winter on the open ocean. They occasionally come inshore and even inland as a result of storms at sea. On 20 October 1968 large numbers moved into Halifax Harbour just ahead of hurricane "Gladys.
They are the most numerous species of gull in the world and most adapted to nesting on vertical rocky sea-cliffs. Most young gulls flee from the nest if disturbed, but the young of this species stay put no matter how close a human gets-leaving a nest on a high ledge could result in a fatal plunge to the rocks below.
A group of kittiwakes are collectively known as a "flock" of kittiwakes.