WatchList Species Account for Red-legged Kittiwake
(Rissa brevirostris)

Qualifies for the list as a Declining Yellow List Species

Redlegged Kittiwake
Photo: USFWS

This small gull nests in dense colonies on four island groups in the Bering Sea, three Alaskan and one Russian. At present the total population is estimated at 232,000 individuals, of which over 75% nest on ledges on vertical sea cliffs on St. George Island in the Pribilofs.


The Red-legged Kittwake forages over deep water, from the edge of the continental shelf to water 6,500 feet deep. Their large eyes may assist them in feeding on small fish and squid at night or during the dark winters they pass at sea, when most of the sight records are from the northern Gulf of Alaska or the southeastern Bering Sea.


Its populations have dropped by about 50% on the Pribilofs in the last thirty years, probably due to decreased marine food productivity, or possibly resulting from excessive commercial fishing around the islands.


At its breeding sites the chicks are preyed on by arctic fox, Glaucous-winged Gulls, and occasionally Common Ravens. The introduction of rats onto the islands would have a severe negative impact on its nesting success.