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Bird name:

Great Skua

Stercorarius skua




Skuas (Stercorariidae)





Euring 5

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Breeding Location:

Moorland, Islands, rocky

Breeding Type:


Egg Colour:

Fine granular texture and olive, buff or brown with sparse dark or light brown specks, spots and blotches.

Number of Eggs:

1 - 2

Incubation Days:

26 - 32

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Material:

Depression in moss or grass, occasionally lined with plant material.

Nest Location:

On ground, typically near seabird colonies.




Great Skua: Herring Gull sized heavy looking seabird with rather stout, hooked bill. Grey-brown above and below with light brown highlights. Black-brown cap and dark grey flight feathers with white patch at base of primaries. Some birds lack dark cap and are paler. Sexes similar. Juveniles have dark grey head, are more plain and uniform red-brown than adults, and have rusty edging to wing feathers.

Range and Habitat

Great Skua: Summer breeder and migrant visitor. Breeding birds are found in northern coastal Scotland, the Western and Northern Isles. On passage may be seen along most UK & Irish coasts as the birds make their way to winter grounds along the Spanish and African coasts. Inhabits rocky islands and moorland.

Breeding and Nesting

Great Skua: Breeds in tundra and moorland, usually near the sea. Nests in small groups or large colonies. Most chicks return to birthplace to establish a breeding territory. Both parents build the nest, which is a shallow, grass-lined scrape on the ground. Both parents care for young.

Foraging and Feeding

Great Skua: Eats mostly fish, also kills and eats smaller birds. Aggressively harasses other birds to pirate their food. Eats some carrion.


Great Skua: Loud "gek gek."

Similar Species

Great Skua: The Pomarine Skua is smaller, has a yellow nape and white neck and underparts. Juvenile Pomarine Skuas and Great Black-backed Gulls lack the bold white flashes in the wings.

The area on top of the head of the bird.
Flight feathersX
Located on the wing, and collectively called remiges (singular, remex). The long stiff feathers are subdivided into two major groups based on the location and are called primaries and secondaries.
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.


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 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.

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