Pomarine Skua

Pomarine Skua

Scientific name: Stercorarius pomarinus

Did you know: The Pomarine Skua, an Arctic breeder, is known for its remarkable spoon-shaped tail streamers and its aggressive kleptoparasitic behaviour!

What Do Pomarine Skuas Look Like? (how to identify them)

Pomarine Skuas are striking seabirds, easily identifiable by their size, being slightly smaller than herring gulls. Their most notable feature in adults is the long, spoon-shaped tail streamers

They exhibit two colour morphs: light and dark. Light morphs have a dark cap and a white underbody, while dark morphs are mostly brownish-black.

Differences Between Male And Female Pomarine Skuas

In both light and dark morphs, males and females are similar in appearance. However, males may be slightly larger and have more pronounced tail streamers.

What Do Pomarine Skuas Eat?

These birds have a varied diet that changes with the seasons. In their breeding grounds, they primarily feed on lemmings. During winters at sea, they forage for fish and are known for their kleptoparasitic behaviour, where they steal food from other birds.

Where Do Pomarine Skuas Live? (inc. migration info)

Pomarine Skuas breed in the Arctic tundras of North America and Eurasia, preferring coastal areas for nesting. They are migratory, spending winters in tropical ocean waters. In the UK, they are seen during migration, particularly along the coasts.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Pomarine Skuas)

Pomarine Skuas are not particularly vocal, but they do have a range of calls. During breeding, males may emit a wheezing whistle as part of their display, while females produce a growling sound when threatened. Their calls are more prominent in their wintering grounds and during migration.

Fun Pomarine Skua Facts (kid friendly)

  • Pomarine Skuas can have two completely different looks, known as ‘morphs’.
  • They are famous for stealing food from other birds in mid-air!
  • These birds have special long tail feathers that look like spoons.
  • They breed in the cold Arctic but spend winters in warm tropical seas.
  • Pomarine Skuas are very protective parents and will bravely defend their nests.
  • Their diet mainly includes fish and small rodents like lemmings.
  • They can be spotted in the UK during their long migration journeys.
  • These birds are excellent flyers and can cover long distances over the ocean.
  • Juvenile Pomarine Skuas are quite hard to identify due to their resemblance to gulls.
  • They are known for their bold and fearless nature, especially when guarding their territory.

Facts About The Pomarine Skua

Diet: Lemmings on the breeding grounds; otherwise, fish and other birds.
Bird Family: Skuas
Length: 46-51 cm
Wingspan: 113-125 cm
Weight: 550-900 g
Scientific Name: Stercorarius pomarinus

The Pomarine Skua Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • April
  • May
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November