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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Great Skua Stercorarius skua

Powerfully built, with short, broad wings, the great skua is shaped like an unusually thickset gull, but it has mottled, dark brown plumage that changes only slightly as it matures. The great skua is a rapacious predator, eating fish, small mammals, and also other birds, as well as raiding nests for eggs and chicks. Normally slow and ponderous in the air, the great skua becomes swift and agile when it hunts, and chases birds as large as gannets to force them to regurgitate their food, which it then eats. The great skua nests on the ground and spends the rest of the year at sea.

Great Skuazoom image
  • Order Charadriiformes
  • Length 20–26 in (51–66 cm)
  • Weight 2–3 lb (1.2–1.6 kg)
  • Habitat Coasts, inshore waters, open sea
  • Distribution North Atlantic (breeding), dispersing south to equator (non-breeding)
Great Skua habitat mapzoom image