Torquay’s prestigious coastal zoo, Living Coasts has once again added another breeding success to its name.

Living Coasts have successfully hatched a black-legged kittiwake.

This is the first time the charity zoo has bred this beautiful seabird, which is listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Keeper of the birds, Lisa Jones said:

As far as I’m aware, we’re the only collection in the UK to hold and breed this species. Only a few collections in the world have this bird.

Native to North America

The black-legged Kittiwake is more commonly found in North America, where there’s also a reg-legged kittiwake.

Closer to home, in Europe, it’s the only member of the genus, and is often known simply as kittiwake.

In the UK it is thought that breeding success of this species has dropped by almost 44% and the whole population has dropped by around 60% since the 1980s.

Kittiwake’s commonly eat fish and don’t scavenge at landfill, like some of the more familiar seagulls that we are used to here in Torbay.

Good news for those of us who live to eat fish and chips by the sea.

An unusual name

The name, kittiwake, comes from its call.  The call more often sounds like ‘kitte-wa-aaaake, kitte-wa-aake.

Living Coasts was previously home to female red legged kittiwakes and a pair of black legged kittiwakes which arrived at the zoo in 2015.

Living Coasts Curator, Claire Rugg said:

They’ve established good pair bonds and matured and have now bred, which is great news. We are extremely pleased to have bred them and hope to continue to do so. And the good news is, there are more eggs, but they are up on a ledge and the keepers don’t want to disturb the birds too much at this stage.

Climate Change

It is thought that climate change is also having an impact on the kittiwake food supplies.

This has meant that breeding success and adult survival rates has dropped.

You can visit the new arrivals at Living Coasts, Torquay at Auk Cliff.  Further information can be found on the official Living Coasts website.

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