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Bird name:

Long-tailed Skua

Stercorarius longicaudus




Skuas (Stercorariidae)





Euring 5

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Breeding Location:

Tundra, Arctic regions

Breeding Type:


Egg Colour:

Smooth, slightly glossy and olive, pale green or tan with dark brown spots or blotches concentrated on large end.

Number of Eggs:

1 - 2

Incubation Days:

23 - 26

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Material:

Hollow sometimes lined with peat or moss.

Nest Location:

On the ground




Long-tailed Skua: Graceful, falcon-like seabird with long, central tail feathers. Dark grey above with black tail and black in wings. Grey belly and vent, white breast and throat. Cheeks, side of neck, and nape pale yellow. Black cap and short, black bill. Flight very agile, graceful, and fast. Sexes similar. Juveniles vary from pale to very dark and have long, pointed tail but lack long, central tail feathers. Faint barring below, pale barring above, and black and white barring on rump and vent. Also have blue-grey bills with black tip.

Range and Habitat

Long-tailed Skua: Scarce passage visitor to the UK & Ireland. Visible May to November; rough weather blows birds inland during late summer storms. Can be seen along west coast of Ireland, north coast of Scotland and offshore islands, and south coast of England. Birds breed in the Arctic and winter in Africa.

Breeding and Nesting

Long-tailed Skua: Forms long-term monogamous pair bonds. Both parents build the nest, which is a shallow depression. Both incubate eggs, but female is primarily responsible. Maximum of two eggs are incubated by being held between the parent's foot and body. Both parents care for chicks.

Foraging and Feeding

Long-tailed Skua: In summer on the tundra they eat small mammals like lemmings. They also eat carrion, small birds, eggs and fish. Being fast fliers, they catch the food they force other birds to drop. When migrating they catch more of their own fish.


Long-tailed Skua: In flight utters "phew-phew-phew."

Similar Species

Long-tailed Skua: Arctic Skua is smaller and more stocky, with broader wings and a shorter tail. It is also darker overall. Pomarine Skua is bulkier and has darker upperparts, tail streamers are more spoon shaped. Both of these birds show white wing panels.

The ventral part of the bird, or the area between the flanks on each side and the crissum and breast. Flight muscles are located between the belly and the breast.
The upper front part of a bird.
The area on top of the head of the bird.
Also called the hindneck or collar, it is the back of the neck where the head joins the body.
The area between the uppertail coverts and the back of the bird.
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.
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