Order: Charadriiformes Family: Laridae Genus: Rissa Species: brevirostris Other Names: “The bird that talks a lot” (Russian translation)
Both sexes look alike (monomorphic). Adults are mostly white; the upper surface of wings and back are dark grey; their feet are a reddish-orange; they stand about 15.9 inches (40.5 cm) tall. Juvenile and first-winter birds have more black on their outer primaries and their inner primaries and secondaries are mostly white. Red-legged Kittiwakes have large eyes which may be an adaptation for foraging at night.
Red-legged Kittiwakes are only found on five islands—the Pribilof Islands and at the end of the Aleutian Island Chain. They nest on ledges on vertical sea cliffs. It is thought that individuals may move south and east from breeding areas in the fall, but this and much about their natural history is still unknown.
Northern lanternfish, walleye pollock, squid, and marine zooplankton
Red-legged Kittiwakes are able to capture food that are located at the surface and within the top foot to 18 inches (0.5 meters) of water by plunging themselves into the water.
Red-legged Kittiwakes are good flyers who can hover briefly over feeding areas and small nesting ledges. They use deep, rapid strokes to fly through the air.
During courtship, males can be observed standing at the nest site with their tail raised and head and chest inclined forward and downward. The males then make fast pecking motions and utter a loud choking sound. Once the female has responded, both can be seen calling loudly to one another and making choking sounds together. Kittiwakes, like most seabirds, are monogamous and will remain with the same partner throughout many breeding seasons.
Around April, Red-legged Kittiwakes unite with their partner at the nesting colony. These birds are philopatric and will return to the same nest site each spring. Nest building may start in April when pairs reunite, but most does not occur until late May or early June; they will build a cup shaped nest out of mud on cliff ledges. Red-legged Kittiwakes lay a single egg sometime around the second week of June. Both parents will incubate the egg for 23-32 days. The eggs are ordinarily buff color with markings of brown spots, blotches, or streaks. Chicks are typically fledged in early to mid-September.