English and Scientific names:

Black-legged Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla)

Number of individuals: 


1 in first winter plumage





Specific Locality:

Calcasieu Ship Channel, at the ferry crossing

Date(s) when observed:


Time(s) of day when observed:  

Morning and afternoon

Reporting observer and address:

Paul Conover

Other observers accompanying reporter who also identified the bird(s):

Rob Dobbs, Meribeth Huizinga, Dave Patton

Other observers who independently identified the bird(s)

Steve Cardiff and Donna Dittmann discovered the bird a few days prior on the Sabine CBC

Light conditions (position of bird in relation to shade and to direction and amount of light):

Bird was close and in every direction to us, light was good 

Optical equipment: 

zeiss 10s, nikon d50 w/200 mm lens.

Distance to bird(s): 

Down to a few feet

Duration of observation:

Maybe 15-30 minutes total


Ship channel 

Behavior of bird: 

Resting in ferry slip, coming out with many other gulls to eat popcorn offered from Dave’s boat


A small gull with a distinctive and diagnostic wing and neck pattern.  Wings with a black W on upperwings created by largely black outer primaries and primary coverts, inner median coverts, and middle and outer lesser coverts. Portions of wings in front of W grayish, portions behind white. Mantle medium gray.


White beneath. 


Head and neck white, with double hindcollar.  Anterior collar blackish, basically a line connecting what can be viewed as earspots.  Rear collar at base of neck, a thick smudgy black collar with a grayish echo of the pattern just before it.  Rump and tail white.  Broad black terminal band on tail, thickest in interior tail feathers, narrowest on outer.  Bill black with yellowish or greenish tint on basal portion.  Legs dusky yellow, not black.  Eye dark.   


Similar species:

Bonaparte’s Gull the most obvious similar species locally, but Bonaparte’s wing pattern and head pattern differ from description, above, of this bird.  Little, Ross’s, and Sabine’s Gulls also differ from this bird in combination of head and wing pattern.

Photographs or tape recordings obtained?


Previous experience with this species: 

yes, I've seen a few young bird over the years in the state, and adults and nestlings in their breeding range. 

Identification aids:


This description is written from: 


Are you positive of your identification? If not, explain: 



Date and time: