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South Polar Skua Stercorarius maccormicki

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  • © Cameron Rutt

Familiar to North American birders as a pirating brute of the pelagic zone, the South Polar Skua is one of the smaller members of the Stercorarius skuas that breed along the margins of the Southern Ocean.  The species breeds along the Antarctic coast and sometimes feeds on penguin eggs and chicks; it tends to be more pelagic when away from colonies, feeding on fish and pirating meals from other seabirds. Though usually difficult to identify in areas of overlap with other large skua species, the South Polar Skua can be identified by its contrasting plumage dominated by cold tones (no rufous), dark wings with the characteristic white "skua flash" along the primary bases, and pale feathering at the base of the bill. Another factor compounding the difficulty of identification is the polymorphism of the species; South Polar Skuas exhibit both light morph and dark morph plumage types.

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© Gregory Budney

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  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

South Polar Skua (Stercorarius maccormicki), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: https://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/Species-Account/nb/species/sopsku1