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Alternative name: Bonxie
Length 53-59 cm, wingspan 132-140 cm, weight 1.1-1.7 kg. A large and heavy skua.
 1st year
 Similar species
The southern hemisphere Brown Skua is probably indistinguishable in the field, though is not currently known to overlap in range. The slightly smaller South Polar Skua migrates north into the Great Skua's range in the southern hemisphere winter (northern summer); light phase individuals are distinguishable by their paler body plumage, and dark phase birds may be distinguishable at close range by their less streaked and slightly greyer-toned plumage; plumage tone is however variable between individuals and some birds may be effectively indistinguishable.
Breeds in Iceland, the Faroes, northern Scotland (common on the Shetland Islands), Norway (including Svalbard, Jan Mayen and Bear Island) and around Kola Peninsula in northwestern Russia.
Open ocean, usually near coastlines.
A powerful marine predator and kleptoparasite, stealing food from other seabirds of all sizes, and regularly killing and eating other seabirds up to the size of Herring Gulls and occasionally even Great Black-backed Gulls and Northern Gannets (both significantly larger than itself); also takes fish and other seafood, including by following fishing boats for discards. On the breeding grounds it will also take land animals like Rabbits.
The nest scrape may be lined with grass. The two large brownish-olive, blotchy eggs are laid at the end of May or beginning of June.
They are very protective of their nests and young, and they will attack intruders (including people) at any opportunity, flying from behind and kicking with their sharp claws.
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