Great skua fact sheet

Stercorarius skua | Great skua

The great skua is a large (about the size of a large gull) and powerful seabird. They have a compact body (resembling a barrel), large head and beak and a short tail. The adults have characteristic white wings stripes that contrast with the standard dark brown body (juveniles have a reddish body). They behave violently when their breeding area is intruded and they may become dangerous, banging their beak on the head of the intruder. The flight is usually slow and heavy, but they are quick, skillful and tenacious when they are hunting. Like other skuas, the great skua frequently steals food from other marine birds (e.g. terns and gulls). Great skuas spend most of the year at sea, coming to land only to nest from May to June. They nests on remote islands and coastal swamps, in northern Scotland the Faroe Islands and Iceland.

In winter they migrate to warmer regions, reaching the wouth Atlantic and South America as well as areas of the Portuguese coast (being sighted here mostly in autumn and winter). This species is classified as “rare breeding” in the Azores. This species is classified as a “rare breeding” in the Azores.

Length: 58 cm

• Male: about 1.3 kg
• Female: about 1.5 kg

Wingspan: 140 cm

Population: about 16,000 breeding pairs

• Average: about 15 years
• Maximum: 34. 5 years

Diet: Fish and other smaller birds

Breeding age: 7 years

Eggs: 2 (olive brown)

Incubation: 26 – 32 days

Nesting: On the ground in grass-lined nests

Fledging: 40 – 51 days

In other languages:
Portuguese: Moleiro grande
Spanish: Págalo grande/skúa
French: Grande labbe/Skua
Italian: Stercorario maggiore
German: Große raubmöwe
Dutch: Grote jager
Swedish: Storlabb
Norwegian: Storjo
Danish: Storkjove
Finnish: Isokihu

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