Tromsø's Kittiwake problems

To: "Birdchat " <>, birding-aus <>, "" <>
Subject: Tromsø's Kittiwake problems
From: Willem Jan Marinus Vader via Birding-Aus <>
Date: Fri, 23 Jun 2023 08:22:01 +0000



Fra: Wim Vader <>
Sendt: tirsdag 4. april 2023 12:24
Til: Willem Jan Marinus Vader <>
Emne: Fwd: Tromsø's Kittiwake problems



---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Wim Vader <>
Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2023, 10:33
Subject: Tromsø's Kittiwake problems
To: PG Nell <>


Kittiwakes have been one of the iconic breeding birds of our seabird colonies, together with various auks, shags, and a few places gannets. But many of our seabirds are decreasing ominously, in the case of the Kittiwakes less than half are left. They are, of course, strictly protected, but in their case, bird protection may be part of the problem: 50 years ago our then much endangered Sea Eagles gained protection, and their numbers have since multiplied. And nesting Kittiwakes are among their main prey in summer, while the steady disturbances also lover the breeding success.


The Kittiwakes in the seabird colonies have had meagre nesting success in the later years, and the birds themselves have clearly also noticed this, as they have in steadily increasing numbers started nesting on buildings in the townships. In Tromsø this has led to the worsening of our so-called gull problem: the Kittiwakes on the window ledges are loud, and they dirty the building and the street below. Moreover, many people do not see the differences between the seafaring Kittiwakes, the so-called 'kebab gulls' (here mainly Herring Gulls) that steal food from unsuspecting tourists, and the Common Gulls that absolutely deserve this name here, nest everywhere in town, are loud day and night, and attack passers-by when their chicks are small.

So many people heartily dislike the invasion of Kittiwakes in town. But as these birds are strictly protected and now even on the Red List, their nests may not be removed. Many people try to discourage the birds by various means, i.a. by mounting metal pins on the window sills, but this regularly leads to dramas, as the Kittiwakes are very persistent and now and then get wounded trying to occupy the window sills in spite of the protective measures.


So the town did what towns do in such cases: they named a committee!

These people worked well together, and last year they constructed two 'kittiwake towers',  placed close to buildings which had serious 'kittiwake problems' in 2021. One of them was taken into use by the birds, the other not, probably because it was too far from the building concerned (the original Tromsø Museum, now an art museum.). 

So this year they have tried a new solution, with (in principle) movable 'towers' put up close to the building---a very Norwegian solution: the towers can be moved, mounted on skis! The first stage seems to be a success, as the gulls have taken the towers in use; we still don't know if they will tolerate being gradually moved further from the building, while nesting.


Tromsøs Kittiwake problem is as yet far from a definite solution, but wemay yet arrive at a construction which satisfies both the town and the Kittiwakes. Time will show!

Wim Vader, Tromsø, Norway



Added in June

     Many Kittiwakes nested on the Kittiwake hotels, with good breeding results hitherto.


Description: IMG-20230401-WA0011.jpg

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