South Polar Skua

Stercorarius maccormicki




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:

24 - 34

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

On ground.

Nest Material:

Lined with moss or no lining.





South Polar Skua Dark: Small, gull-like skua that occurs in two color phases. Dark phase adult has a dark brown body and large white patch at base of primaries visible in flight. Bill is dark, thick and heavy; tail is short and broad. Light phase adult has pale gray-brown head and underparts. Birds become paler with age. Plumage fades to a lighter tone through the breeding season. Sexes are similar. Juvenile of both phases resembles dark phase adult but has thinner bill with gray base and dark tip; shows less white on wings.

Range and Habitat

South Polar Skua: This species nests in Antarctica in sheltered areas adjacent to penguin colonies. It is highly migratory, travelling to offshore Pacific and Atlantic coasts of North America north to subarctic British Columbia and Newfoundland, sometimes straying to the southern coast of Alaska. This species is pelagic, coming ashore only to breed.

Breeding and Nesting

South Polar Skua Dark: One to three yellow, green, or brown eggs marked with purple and brown are laid in a shallow ground depression. Incubation ranges from 24 to 34 days and is carried out by both parents.

Foraging and Feeding

South Polar Skua Dark: They eat mainly fish, often obtained by robbing gulls, terns and even gannets of their catches. They will also eat other seabirds, rabbits and carrion. They are predators and scavengers. In the North Pacific, these birds gather around fishing fleets to feed on refuse thrown overboard.


South Polar Skua: Utters a gull-like "scoo-ah."

Similar Species

South Polar Skua Dark: Great Skua has heavy streaks on body and wing coverts and red-brown tones.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

The primaries are the flight feathers specialized for flight. They are attached to the "hand" equivalent part of the wing.
The pelagic is a type of bird whose habitat is on the open ocean rather than in a coastal region or on inland bodies of water (lakes, rivers). An example of a pelagic bird is the blacklegged kittiwake.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X