Red-legged Kittiwake

Ron Niebrugge Alaska, Chugach, Photos, Travel 4 Comments

Hard core birders go to great expense to travel to the remote corners of Alaska in order to catch a glimpse of this bird, a Red-legged Kittiwake, as they only live in very localized areas of the sub-arctic Pacific.  We spotted what we believed to be a Red-legged Kittiwak  in  Prince William Sound on our way to Cordova, in the popular black-legged Kittiwake colony straight across from  Whittier.  I don’t know if it is still there, but if it is, this could become a big draw for birders this summer.

Comments 4

  1. Ron, I so love your photographs and all your adventures! What is your opinion of releasing your photographs under “Creative Commons” like some photographers do (Trey Ratcliff, for example)? I love to share your photos with friends, but sometimes the copyright detracts from the scene.

  2. Post

    Hi Sherrie,

    Thanks a lot!

    I have no problem with people sharing them with friends, etc., it is just commercial use I worry about. But I do like having the notice on there, some images get shared over and over, and this way people know who to contact if they are interested in a print or license. I do try to minimize the size in placement, but it does detract a bit unfortunately.

  3. The picture is of aberrant Black-legged Kittiwake and not a Red-legged Kittiwake. Black-leggeds on occasion show orangey legs such as this though it is pretty dang rare and I’ve still only seen one or two out in the Pribilofs like that.

    The fact that the bird has the same mantle color as the Black-leggeds in the background, the bill is long and thin, the eye is small, and the legs are orange (not the deep red as all adult Red-leggeds would show) rules out Red-legged. The underwing in a Red-legged Kittiwake is also quite a dark slaty gray, unlike this individual.

    Cool bird and still rare, just not a rare species. It should also be noted that this particular individual has been present in Whittier for at least a few seasons and has tripped up many birders in the past as well.

  4. Post

    Thanks a lot Scott – appreciate the detailed response.

    I was getting ready to share a similar opinion from Aaron Lang who wrote:

    This looks like a Black-legged Kittiwake with an abnormal leg color, a condition that is occasionally observed in Black-legged Kittiwakes. A bird like this was photographed in the Homer kittiwake colony a few years ago, too. In all other respects this bird looks like a Black-legged–the upperwing is lighter gray than that of a Red-legged, the underwing is whitish gray and contrasts greatly with the black wing-tip., the bill is long and greenish-yellow.

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