In recent years there have been indications that the attendance of Kittiwakes Rissa tridactyla at the nest whilst containing young has changed, possibly influenced by food shortage. This paper examines the attendance of parents at the nest at North Shields, England, at a time when the breeding success was high and there was no indication of food shortage. It was evident that there was considerable variation in the attendance of individual parents, and chicks were left alone for the first time between 9 and over 40 days after hatching. Chicks were left alone overnight more frequently than during the day; this is related to the much longer overnight feeding trips by the parents.

The recording method used in this study gave a continuous trace of the presence of each adult, and it has been used to calculate the errors made from spot observations.