BIRDS OF ICELAND : Stercorarius skua, Great Skua

Stercorarius skua synonym Catharacta skuaGreat skua's are known best for their stealing of prey (fish) from other birds like gulls, puffins, fulmars, terns, etc. The great skuas are the most ferocious and will even attack larger gulls like the great black-backed gull and gannets. They will chase these other birds when they have caught fish just until they regurgitate the catch. However they also hunt fish themselves as well as eggs and chickens. In American English they are also known as "jaegers" a Germanic name meaning hunter. In German though skua's are known as "Raubmöwe" meaning robbing gulls. In comparison to the other skua's (see arctic skua - next in list) the great skua is less slender and has a short tail. As such it resembles a large brown gull. Characteristic are the white spots on the wing. They are a result of white colored basis' of the hand-pinfeathers. A large proportion of the Atlantic great skua's breed on Iceland, mainly in southern Iceland (the Skeiðararsandur coastal sand plains region). In low numbers they can be seen all around the coast.

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A brief introduction to Iceland birds
Text & Photographs by Dick Vuijk
- unless stated otherwise


 a Great Skua in flight.
 a great skua lifting its wings, thus showing the characteristic white spots on the underside of the wings.
The full view (click on image) shows the whole bird.

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 a Great Skua in flight.

 White spots bottom of wings

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 Press on photo for full size

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