English and Scientific names: Black-legged Kittiwake   Rissa tridactyla


2. Number of individuals, sexes, ages, general plumage (e.g., 2 in alternate plumage):  1 in molting juvenal plumage, sex undeterminable.

3. Locality: LOUISIANA: Cameron Parish


Specific Locality: LA 82, 5 miles west of Holly Beach.


4. Date(s) when observed:  04-26-2014

5. Time(s) of day when observed:  08:25 until 08:45.

6. Reporting observer and address:  Nancy L Newfield

                                                          Casa Colibrí

                                                          3016 45th Street

                                                          Metairie, LA 70001


7. Other observers accompanying reporter who also identified the bird(s):  Kevin Morgan

8. Other observers who independently identified the bird(s):  Marty Floyd, Casey Wright, Linda Stewart-Knight, Melvin Weber, and a host of others.

9. Light conditions (position of bird in relation to shade and to direction and amount of light):  The sky was partly cloudy with a fairly strong south wind coming off the Gulf.  Light was good and from the east.  

10. Optical equipment (type, power, condition):  Swarovski 10 x 42  EL Swarovision  new.

11. Distance to bird(s):  35-40 feet.

12. Duration of observation:  About 20 minutes.

13. Habitat:  beach / sand bar.

14. Behavior of bird / circumstances of observation (flying, feeding, resting; include and stress habits used in identification; relate events surrounding observation):  My first glimpse of the bird was as it wheeled in the air as we travelled westward on the Holly Beach Highway [LA 82].  The gull & tern flock with which this individual was associated was on the beach and an adjacent sand bar in a place where the gulf waters came fairly close to the highway, so the birds on the beach were not immediately viewable for a passenger in a westbound vehicle.


However, the bird in flight caught my eye because of its slightly notched white tail with a narrow black subterminal band.  It took a few seconds for my non-Laridophile brain to process the information.  After we got the vehicle turned around, we approached the flock on the beach cautiously insofar as all of the birds seemed to be ready to take to the air at any provocation.  We found the Kittiwake on the sand amid Laughing Gulls, Royal Terns, and Forster’s Terns.        

15. Description (include only what was actually seen, not what "should" have been seen; include if possible: total length/relative size compared to other familiar species, body bulk, shape, proportions, bill, eye, leg, and plumage characteristics. Stress features that separate it from similar species):  The bird was a smallish to medium-sized [about 16 inches] gull, slightly smaller than the Laughing Gulls with which it was hanging out.  The rounded head was white with a small amount of dark smudging and a thumbprint blackish spot behind the eye.  The neck/nape was white with a broad, but discontinuous black ‘collar’ around the hindneck.


The mantle was medium gray mixed with lighter gray.  The darkest gray was lighter than that on the mantle of the nearby Laughing Gulls.  In flight, the characteristic blackish ‘M’ pattern was obvious.  Wings, longer than tail when at rest.  Wingtips black.  The rump was white and the tail was white with a narrow black subterminal band.  Underparts were pure white.  The bill, eyes, and short legs were black.        

16. Voice:  No vocalization heard.

17. Similar species (include how they were eliminated by your observation):  No other North American gull species shows a black ‘collar’ in any plumage, except for the related Red-legged Kittiwake, which has a red [or pink] legs and an entirely white tail. 

18. Photographs or tape recordings obtained? (by whom? attached?): Images by Kevin Morgan.

19. Previous experience with this species:  Twice only - January 1977 at the Texas City Dike, Texas, and April 1994 at Holly Beach, Louisiana, very near the location of the current sighting.

20. Identification aids: (list books, illustrations, other birders, etc. used in identification):

a. at time of observation: National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America [5th edition] and The Sibley Guide to Birds [1st edition] as well as the Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America. 

b. after observation:  All of the above plus Gulls of the Americas.

21. This description is written from:      x      notes made during the observation (notes attached?) yes.   _____notes made after the observation (date:          );     x     memory.


22. Are you positive of your identification if not, explain: Absolutely.

23. Signature of reporter:  Nancy L Newfield


                                                             Date:  06-09-2014                            Time:  11:48                        

24. May the LBRC have permission to display this report or
portions of this report on its website?   Yes.


If yes, may we include your name with the report?  Yes.