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Kittiwake (

The dapper kittiwake is the most sea-going of all Scottish ‘seagulls’. It seldom comes far inland, preferring to remain near its sea-cliff colonies or out over the briny deeps.

What to look for

Kittiwakes are small gulls, about two-thirds the size of a herring gull, with white underparts and jet black tips to their pale grey wings. At colonies, the loud ‘kitti-waak, kitti-waak’ calls give a name check.

Interesting facts

Kittiwake chicks have bold black markings that they use to reduce aggression in the cramped nests. To appease an adult, a chick may turn its head away, showing its black neck collar.

When and where to see

Colonies are scattered widely, from the Solway to the Northern Isles. Look for birds ashore between April and August. The largest numbers are in Orkney, Caithness and Shetland, though there are also big colonies in several places on the east coast.


St Abbs Head, Isle of May, Fowlsheugh, Handa, Fair Isle.

For more information see the RSPB,s kittiwake page.