Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus   [Linnaeus, 1758]

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Order: Charadriiformes Family: Stercorariidae
BTO Codes: AC, ARCSK EURING No: 5670
Number in Britain: 2100 Pairs (Summer)
Conservation Status:
European: Not a species of concern
Global: (Details)
Status in UK: (A)  Migrant Breeder, Passage Visitor
Subspecies: Monotypic
Length: 44 cm Wingspan: 118 cm Weight: M/F: 450 g    
Scientific name from: L.: stercus=dung + -arius=belonging to and L.: parasiticus=parasitic
World Distribution: BREEDS: n Eurasia, n North America, WINTERS: southern oceans
Habitat: Coastal tundra, in winter seacoasts
Diet: Summer, mostly birds, small mammals, insects, Winter, fish, mostly by piracy from other birds
TitBit: The Arctic Skua is an avian pirate, constantly harassing other seabirds for their recent catches, their consummate aerial dexterity inspired the name for the RAF's first naval dive-bomber, the Blackburn Skua.  
Identification Tips:
  Images from IBC or search flickr
  Videos from IBC
  Sound from xeno-canto
Crossley ID photos BTO ID Workshop

Population and Distribution

Population Trend: JNCC Seabird Monitoring Programme
Distribution: Atlas Mapstore   
British Population Size:
    Summer: 2100 Pairs in
    First Record: 1713
    Latest Survey: Mitchell, P.I. et al. (2004) Seabird populations of Britain and Ireland Poyser, London
    Conservation Status: RED because Recent Breeding Population Decline (1981-2007),
   Previous Assessments: 2002-2007 GREEN     1996-2001 GREEN  
   Races of Concern:
Habitat Occupancy (in the Breeding Season):
    No habitat data from BBS
Migration routes: Map of foreign ringing recoveries  and summary map from Time to Fly (in pop-up windows)
European Population Size:
    Summer: 20 to 40 thousand pairs
Population Assesment from Birds in Europe
Distribution in Europe mapped by the EBCC Atlas
Listed on the Appendices/Schedules of: Bern(III)
Survey Results: Results from BirdTrack
Summary text from Seabird 2000 (warning: link to large pdf)

Breeding and Survival

Egg Size: 58 x 40 mm Egg Weight: 48.0 g (of which 6 % is shell)
Number of Nest Records: 6
Clutch Size: 2 eggs
Incubation: 25- 28 days   by the: Male + Female
Fledging: 25 - 30days as: Altricial, downy
First Clutches Laid: Unavailable
Number of Broods: 1
Number Ringed: Annual Totals
Adult Survival: 0.886       
Juvenile Survival: 0.680 (in First-Year)  
Age at First Breeding: 4 years Typical Lifespan: 12 years
Maximum Recorded Age: 25 years 10 months 24 days (set in 2003)
Read a summary of Ringing Recoveries


Ring Size: E
Wing Length Adult: 328.9 ± 8.3 Range 314 - 343 mm, N =35
Juvenile: Insufficient Data
Male: Insufficient Data
Female: Insufficient Data
Weight Adult: 416.4 ± 37.93 Range 360.0 - 476.0 g , N =36
Juvenile: Insufficient Data
Male: Insufficient Data
Female: Insufficient Data
British Trust for Ornithology (2005) Ringing Scheme data

Other Names

Parasitic Jaeger
Gaelic: Fŕsgadair Welsh: Sgiwen y Gogledd
Danish: Almindelig kjove Dutch: Kleine Jager
Finnish: Merikihu French: Labbe parasite
German: Schmarotzerraubmöwe Hungarian: Ékfarkú halfarkas
Icelandic: Kjói Irish: Meirleach Artach
Italian: Labbo Norwegian: Tyvjo
Polish: Wydrzyk ostrosterny Portuguese: Moleiro-parasítico
Spanish: Págalo parásito Swedish: Labb

For More Information...

Books and Monographs:
   Phillips, R.A. 2001 BWP Update 3:25-41
   Furness, R.W. 1987 The skuas Poyser, Calton [598.614 FUR]
   O'Donald, P. 1983 The arctic skua Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
See Also:
Find scientific papers on Google Scholar or Scirus by clicking the icon
Wikipedia entry
HBW account (subscription required)
BirdLife species page
Recent sightings and information from BirdGuides