Great Skua

Stercorarius skua




Skuas and Jaegers (Stercorariidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Yellow, green or brown with purple and brown marks

Number of Eggs:

1 - 3

Incubation Days:

26 - 29

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

On the ground or rocky ledges.

Nest Material:

Leaves, moss and grass





Great Skua: Large, heavy-bodied seabird with prominent white patch in primary feathers. Overall color ranges from a light bleached brown to dark brown, but all have a cinammon wash that makes the bird look red-tinged. Sexes similar. Juveniles lack the streaked upperparts of adults and show scalloped fringes on their feathers instead. Great Skua was split into Great Skua and Brown Skua (not in North American range) in 2015 by the American Ornithologist Union.

Range and Habitat

Great Skua: Breeds in Iceland, Norway, the Faroe Islands and the Scottish islands, with a few on mainland Scotland. It breeds on coastal moorland and rocky islands. It is a migrant, wintering at sea in the Atlantic Ocean and regularly reaching North American waters. Vagrant to Mediterranean countries.

Breeding and Nesting

Great Skua: Nests in colonies on rocky islands around Greenland. One to three yellow, green or brown eggs with purple and brown marks are laid in a scrape on the ground and lined with leaves, moss and grass. Incubation ranges from 26 to 29 days and is primarily carried out by the female. Both parents feed semiprecocial young.

Foraging and Feeding

Great Skua: Scavenges and steals food from other seabirds. Will kill smaller seabirds as well.


Great Skua: Loud "gek gek."

Similar Species

Great Skua: South Polar Skua has a pale nape and shows a dark gray tone from a distance.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X