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South Polar Skua - Stercorarius maccormicki



 Kingdom: Animalia
 Phylum: Chordata
 Class: Aves
 Order: Charadriiformes
 Family: Stercorariidae
 Genus: Stercorarius
ICUN Redlist - World Status: Least ConcernLeast Concern


South Polar SkuaThe south polar skua is a large, stocky gull-like bird that is 19-21 inches in length with a wingspan of 48-65 inches. It has a dull brownish-gray body with white patches on its outer wings. It has a thick neck; a short, broad tail; a thick, hooked, black bill and black legs. Males and females look alike.


The south polar skua breeds in Antarctica. Sometimes younger skua migrate into the Atlantic and Pacific ocean areas of the Northern Hemisphere during the Southern Hemisphere's winter season.


South Polar SkuaExcept for during the breeding season, the south polar skua lives on the open ocean.


South Polar SkuaThe south polar skua eats fish, krill, squid, carrion, crustaceans, mollusks, and the eggs and chicks of seabirds. It may also follow ships at sea and eat garbage that is thrown overboard.  The south polar skua is also a kleptoparasite. That means it steals food from other birds. South polar skuas will chase terns and other birds and tug on their wings and tails making them release their catch.

Life Cycle

The female south polar skua lays 1-2 eggs in a depression in the ground, usually located in a sheltered area like a rocky outcropping or a cliffside. The eggs hatch in about 24-34 days. The south polar skua sometimes nests in colonies.


South Polar SkuaThe south polar skua sometimes chases and harasses other birds to force them to drop their catches. The south polar skua is featureed in the animated movie Happy Feet. Four south polar skuas harass the penguin Mumbles.

Audio Credit: xeno-canto.org Stein Ø. Nilsen cc logo