• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

South Polar Skua - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by Francisco Paludo
Balneário Piçarras, SC, Brazil, 9 June 2019
Stercorarius maccormicki


Photo © by steinn
Troll Station, DML, Antarctic Peninsula, November 2008

50–55 cm (19¾-21¾ in)
There are Light, Intermediate and Dark Phase morphs

  • Grey-brown upperparts
  • White or straw-brown head and underparts



Purported to be the most southern of all birds. Reported as far south as the South Pole. Migrate northwards during the southern winter after breeding, spending most time at sea - visitor to Australia, probably on passage. Sighted as far north as Greenland & the Aleutian Islands.


This is a monotypic species[1].

Has been placed in the genus Catharacta with the other large skuas (Sibley & Monroe, 1993; Clements, 2000).





The nests are shallow depressions on the ground may be on rocky outcrops, cliffs or valley floors. The clutch consists of 2 mottled eggs which are usually laid in November and December. They are incubated for 24 to 34 days.


The diet includes fish, krill, squid, carrion, crustaceans, molluscs and the eggs and chicks of seabirds. They will follow ships and forage on any jetsam. At sea will chase and harass smaller birds, forcing them to drop their prey or regurgitate, known as kleptoparasitism. Known as the "Raptor of the South".

Fiercely predatory. Highly territorial and will defend their territories vigorously against all intruders. Will fly straight at head.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. AvianWeb
  3. The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds
  4. Arctic Connection.Com - Wildlife of Antarctica
  5. Australian Government - Australian Antarctic Division

Recommended Citation

External Links

Australian Antarctic Division - http://www.aad.gov.au/default.asp?casid=1643
Wildlife of Antarctica - http://www.antarcticconnection.com/antarctic/wildlife/birds/skuas.shtml