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the web of life in southern Africa

Rissa tridactyla (Black-legged kittiwake) 

Swartpootbrandervoël [Afrikaans]; Drieteenmeeuw [Dutch]; Mouette tridactyle [French]; Dreizehenmöwe [German]; Gaivota-tridáctila [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Charadriiformes > Family: Laridae  

Rissa tridactyla (Black-legged kittiwake)  Rissa tridactyla (Black-legged kittiwake) 
Black-legged kittiwake, USA. [photo Jeff Poklen ©] Black-legged kittiwake, USA. [photo Jeff Poklen ©]

Distribution and habitat

Breeds on sea cliffs and buildings along the coasts of the North Atlantic and North Pacific between 40-80° North, dispersing across the oceans of the Northern Hemisphere. It is a rare vagrant to southern Africa, recorded twice of the coast of the south-western Cape, while it was once sighted ashore at Hermanus, Western Cape in November 1987.


It mainly eats fish and invertebrates, doing most of its foraging by plucking prey from the surface of the sea.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.