Falkland Skua, Stercorarius (antarcticus) antarcticus
|The skuas are a group of seabirds with about
seven species forming the family Stercorariidae and the genus
The three smaller skuas are called jaegers in the Americas.
The English word "skua" comes from the Faroese name
skúgvur for the Great Skua, with the island of Skúvoy
renowned for its colony of that bird. The general Faroese term
for skuas is kjógvi The word "jaeger" is derived
from the German word Jäger, meaning "hunter".
Skuas nest on the ground in temperate and Arctic regions, and
are long-distance migrants. They have even been sighted
at the South Pole.[
Outside the breeding season, skuas take fish, offal, and carrion.
Many are partial kleptoparasites, comprising up to 95%
of the feeding methods of wintering birds, by chasing gulls,
terns and other seabirds to steal their catches, regardless
size of the species attacked (up to 3 times heavier than the
attacking skua). The larger species, such as the Great Skua,
also regularly kill and eat adult birds, such as puffins and
gulls, and have been recorded as killing birds as large as
a Grey Heron. On the
breeding grounds they commonly eat lemmings, and the eggs and
young of other birds.
In the Southern oceans and Antarctica region, some skua species
(especially the South Polar Skua) will readily scavenge
the carcasses at breeding colonies of penguins and pinnipeds,
sometimes taking live penguin chicks. In these areas, skuas
seem to defer to the considerably larger giant
They are medium to large birds, typically with grey or brown
plumage, often with white markings on the wings.
The skuas range in size from the Long-tailed Skua, Stercorarius
longicauda, at 310 grams , to the Brown Skua,
Stercorarius antarcticus, at 1.63 kg. On average, a skua
is about 56 cm long, and 121 cm across the wings.
They have longish bills with a hooked tip, and webbed feet with
sharp claws. They look like large dark gulls, but have a
fleshy cere above the upper mandible. The skuas are strong,
acrobatic fliers. They are generally aggressive in disposition.
Potential predators who go near their nest will be quickly dived
at by the parent bird, which usually targets the head of the
intruder - a practice known as 'dive bombing'.
Tristan Skua, Stercorarius (antarcticus) hamiltoni
Subantarctic Skua, Stercorarius (antarcticus) lonnbergi
Jaeger or Skua, Stercorarius longicaudus
Of the four species of the sksuas we find in Norway, it is the Long-tailed
Skua that is most dependent of lemmings, and their number varies
as the population of lemmings goes up and down. The Pomarine Skua
likes eggs and chickens during summer.
All four species are know stealing from other seabirds.
Stercorarius longicaudus Long-tailed Skua
Stercorarius parasiticus Arctic Skua
Stercorarius pomarinus Pomarine Skua
Stercorarius skua Great Skua
Even if they are 'bandidos' as grown-ups, it is still touching
to see both eggs and chickens in the spring.