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Kittiwake Research

The Tyne Kittiwakes have been extensively studied over the years, helping to build up our knowledge of Kittiwake biology, behaviour and ecology.

Kittiwake chick being weighed © NHSN

The books and papers referenced on this page contain much of the research findings on Tyne Kittiwakes. Study of the birds is ongoing and we continue to learn more about them.

The bird-ringing group of the Natural History Society of Northumbria has fitted birds on the Tyne Bridge with satellite tags in order to learn more about their foraging behaviour. This has revealed that some birds are feeding around the Farne Deeps off the Northumberland Coast – a round trip of over 100 miles. For more information or 0191 208 2790.

The birds nesting on the Kittwake Tower are also often ringed by the Northumbria Bird Ringing Group. You can read about their Kittiwake ringing here or contact for more details.

Books, papers, references and other resources for Tyne Kittiwakes

All of the papers and books below include information about Kittiwakes on the River Tyne.

Kitty on the Tyne Book Cover scan

Kitty the Toon: The World’s First Inland Colony by John Miles & Barry Robson is an illustrated children’s book. A captivating and informative read about the life of the Kittiwake. The book is ideal for young wildlife enthusiasts or beginner birdwatcher. The book includes illustrations of many iconic buildings of Newcastle and Gateshead, which also makes this book a great read. Good resource for Primary School teaching about the story of the Kittiwake and how Newcastle became the home to the most inland colony in the world. Available from Amazon.

The Kittiwake (2011) by John Coulson includes a section about the Tyne Kittiwakes. (A copy is available in the public library of the Great North Museum: Hancock).

Turner, D.M. (2010) Counts and breeding success of Black-legged Kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla nesting on man-made structures along the River Tyne, northeast England, 1994-2009, Seabird, Vol. 23, 111 – 126. Click here to view.

Matt Merrit (2016). A Sky Full of Birds. Contains a thought provoking description of the Tyne Kittiwakes and their conflict with urban regeneration.

Aebischer, N.J. & Coulson, J.C. (1990). Survival of the kittiwake in relation to sex, year, breeding experience and position in the colony. Journal of Animal Ecology 59: 1063-1071.

Coulson, J.C. & Macdonald, A. (1962) Recent changes in the habits of the kittiwake. British Birds 55: 171-177.

Coulson, J.C. & White, E. (1958) The effect of age on the breeding biology of Kittiwake. Ibis 100: 40-51.

Coulson, J.C. (1966) The effects of the pair-bond and age on the breeding biology of the Kittiwake Gull. Journal of Animal Ecology 35: 269-279.

Coulson, J.C. & Porter (1987). Long-term changes in recruitment to the breeding group and the quality of recruits at a Kittiwake colony. Journal of Animal Ecology 56: 675-689.

Coulson, J.C. (1988) Lifetime reproductive success in the Black-legged Kittiwake. Acta XIX Congress Internationalis Ornithologicus. pp.2140-2147. University of Ottawa Press.

Coulson, J.C. & Fairweather, J.A. (2001) Reduced reproductive performance prior to death in the Black-legged Kittiwake: senescence or terminal illness? Journal of Avian Biology 32: 146-152.

Coulson, J.C. & Coulson, B.A. (2008) Measuring immigration and philopatry in seabirds; recruitment to Black-legged Kittiwake colonies. Ibis 150: 288-299.

Coulson, J.C. (2009) Sexing Black-legged Kittiwakes by measurement. Ringing & Migration 24: 233-239.

Fitzgerald, G.R. & Coulson, J.C. (1973) The distribution and feeding ecology of gulls on the tidal reaches of the Rivers Tyne and Wear. Vasculum 58: 29-47.

Raven S.J. & Coulson J.C. 2001. Effects of cleaning a tidal river of sewage on gull numbers: a before and after study of the River Tyne, northeast England. Bird Study 48:48-58.