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Bird name:

Arctic Skua

Stercorarius parasiticus

Order

CHARADRIIFORMES

Family

Skuas (Stercorariidae)

BTO 2

AC

BTO 5

ARCSK

Euring 5

05670
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ILLUSTRATION

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PHOTOS

CONSERVATION STATUS

UK Conservation Status


Red Status

European Conservation Status


Not a species of Concern

Conservation Description


The Arctic Skua breeds in the coastal moors and tundra of northern Europe, Asia and North America, and winters in coastal and pelagic zones throughout much of the rest of the world. It has also occurred as a vagrant to a number of of countries in Africa, and Asia. The global population of this bird species is estimated to be anywhere from 500,000 to 10,000,000 individuals, is not included on the IUCN Red List, and is therefore evaluated as having a status of Least Concern.

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BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY

SUMMARY

Overview

Arctic Skua: Large, gull-like bird with pointed wings, and pointed, projecting central tail fathers. Black cap, dark grey upperparts, buff nape, and white underparts except for dark vent. Bill dark gray with black tip, legs black. Pursues gulls and terns with swift, falcon-like flight.


Range and Habitat

Arctic Skua: Migrant breeder found in coastal moorlands in north Scotland, and Shetland and Orkney islands during summer breeding season. On summer passage can be found at coasts especially near tern colonies. Often visible flying over water, only comes to land to breed. Winters on southern oceans.

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SONGS AND CALLS

Voice Text

"skooo-a", "ka-aaow"

INTERESTING FACTS

  • Arctic Skuas, like other skuas, will fly at the head of a human or fox approaching its nest.
  • Skuas strike by attacking in midair and forcing their victims to drop their kills in flight. The swashbuckling birds sometimes team up to overwhelm their victims, and they are relentless in chasing down their adversaries.
  • The word “skua” comes from the Old Norse term for seagull.
  • A group of skuas are collectively known as a "shishkab" of skuas.

RELATED BIRDS

RANGE MAP

Range Map for Arctic Skua

FAMILY DESCRIPTION

TERMINOLOGY

CREDITS

Author

Gary Owen Dick

Artist

Yury Lisyak

HELP ME IDENTIFY A BIRD

BACKYARD BIRDING

BIRDS AND BIRDING

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PelagicX
The pelagic is a type of bird whose habitat is on the open ocean rather than in a coastal region or on inland bodies of water (lakes, rivers). An example of a pelagic bird is the blacklegged kittiwake.
UnderpartsX

Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

UpperpartsX
Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
CapX
The area on top of the head of the bird.
NapeX
Also called the hindneck or collar, it is the back of the neck where the head joins the body.
VentX
Birds do not have two separate cavities for excrement and reproduction like humans do. In birds, there is one single entrance/exit that suits both functions called the vent, cloaca or anus.
BreastX
The upper front part of a bird.
PrimariesX
The primaries are the flight feathers specialized for flight. They are attached to the "hand" equivalent part of the wing.
4 and 6 letter alpha codesX

The four letter common name alpha code is is derived from the first two letters of the common first name and the first two letters of common last name. The six letter species name alpha code is derived from the first three letters of the scientific name (genus) and the first three letters of the scientific name (species). See (1) below for the rules used to create the codes..

Four-letter (for English common names) and six-letter (for scientific names) species alpha codes were developed by Pyle and DeSante (2003, North American Bird-Bander 28:64-79) to reflect A.O.U. taxonomy and nomenclature (A.O.U. 1998) as modified by Supplements 42 (Auk 117:847-858, 2000) and 43 (Auk 119:897-906, 2002). The list has been updated by Pyle and DeSante to reflect changes reported by the A.O.U from 2003 through 2006.

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ITIS CodesX

The Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) was established in the mid-1990 s as a cooperative project among several federal agencies to improve and expand upon taxonomic data (known as the NODC Taxonomic Code) maintained by the National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

To find the ITIS page for a bird species go to the ITIS web site advanced search and report page at http://www.itis.gov/advanced_search.html. You can enter the TSN or the common name of the bird. It will return the ITIS page for that bird. Another way to obtain the ITIS page is to use the Google search engine. Enter the string ITIS followed by the taxonomic ID, for example "ITIS 178041" will return the page for the Allen's Hummingbird.

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Parts of a Standing birdX
Head Feathers and MarkingsX
Parts of a Flying birdX