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Brown Skua (Stercorarius antarcticus) | by Mark Carmody
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Brown Skua (Stercorarius antarcticus)

The Brown Skua (Stercorarius antarcticus), also known as the Antarctic Skua, Subantarctic Skua, Southern Great Skua, Southern Skua, or hākoakoa (Māori), is a large seabird that breeds in the subantarctic and Antarctic zones and moves further north when not breeding. Its taxonomy is highly complex and a matter of dispute, with some splitting it into two or three species: Falkland skua (S. antarcticus), Tristan skua (S. hamiltoni), and Subantarctic skua (S. lönnbergi). To further confuse, it hybridizes with both the South Polar and Chilean skuas, and the entire group have been considered subspecies of the great skua, a species otherwise restricted to the Northern Hemisphere.


It feeds on fish (often via kleptoparasitism), other birds, small mammals, eggs and carrion.


This is the heaviest species of skua and rivals the largest gulls, the Great Black-backed Gull and Glaucous Gull, as the heaviest species in the shorebird order although not as large in length or wingspan. It has a body mass of 1.2–2.18 kg (2.6–4.8 lb). S. a. lönnbergi measured in the Chatham Islands weighed an average of 1.73 kg (3.8 lb) in 30 males and an average of 1.93 kg (4.3 lb) in 32 females. The latter is the highest colony mean body mass for any living species of shorebird. (wikipedia)


This is an adult bird on a nest. I kept my distance, so as not to disturb them. They were everywhere on South Georgia, feeding in amongst the vast albatross and penguin colonies, and in amongst the seals as well. They are listed as Least Concern by the IUCN. I love Skuas; so it was great to see this species. Such beautiful birds. This was taken at St. Andrew's Bay, South Georgia.

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Taken on November 26, 2014