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Named for its rhythmic calls, the Black-legged Kittiwake as it is known in North America - it's also known as the Common Kittiwake - is a dapper, oceanic gull. As described by Roger Tory Peterson, the tips of its pale gray wings "are cut straight across, as if they had been dipped in ink." Unlike many gulls, kittiwakes spend most of the year at sea and are seldom seen inland. Watch the video, below, of kittiwakes nesting at Shoup Glacier in Alaska.
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Kittiwake, Kittiwake, Kittiwake!
Written by Bob Sundstrom
This is BirdNote![Black-legged Kittiwake typical “kittiwake, kittiwake, kittiwake” calls over crashing waves]
The cry of the kittiwake rings out across the northern ocean. [Black-legged Kittiwake calls]
Kittiwakes were well known to even the earliest northern seafarers. Named for its rhythmic calls, the Black-legged Kittiwake – as it’s known in North America – is a dapper, oceanic gull. The tips of its pale gray wings look as though they've been dipped in black ink.[Black-legged Kittiwake calls]
Unlike many gulls, kittiwakes spend most of the year at sea and are seldom seen inland. Vast numbers live on the Bering Sea, where they are by far the most abundant gull.
Ornithologist Arthur Bent wrote of nesting kittiwakes: “This species is always associated in my mind . . . in its summer home, with the dark, frowning cliffs of the frozen north, which tower for hundreds of feet above the stormy ice-bound seas until lost to sight in shrouds of mist and fog . . . a safe retreat in which to raise their hardy offspring.”
In winter, Black-legged Kittiwakes can be found along the West Coast from southern Alaska to Baja California, and along the East Coast from Labrador to Florida. [Black-legged Kittiwake calls]
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For BirdNote, I’m Michael Stein.
Call of the Black-legged Kittiwake provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by J. Piatt.
Highlight Black-legged Kittiwake call recorded by K. Colver.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org January 2017 Narrator: Michael Stein
ID# 011607BLKIKPLU BLKI-01b
[quotation p. 36 from: Bent, Arthur Cleveland. Life Histories of North American Gulls and Terns. New York: Dover, 1963.]