This is a big, bad and brown first cousin to the gulls. It is big - about the same size as a Herring Gull but with a much heavier body. It is brown - in all plumages but displays white areas in the middle of the outer wings where the white shafts to the primary feather are readily seen. But it is not bad! Birds that scavenge and prey on other birds are often looked upon as bad and cruel but they have evolved their own way of life to exploit existing resources. Applying Human morals is daft.
These birds have heavy bills and will be equally at home feeding from a dead whale or a tiny warbler on migration. They also pirate other seabirds and get them to drop their food but they are so strong that often they predate the other seabirds directly. The breeding population in the North Atlantic resulted from colonisation from the South and there are less than 15,000 pairs of this species in the World. They seem to spreading at a time when the Scottish population (over 55% of World) is not doing so well. About 7,500 pairs nest in Scotland (mostly Shetland). They winter at sea down to at least as far as Brazil.
The big bomber of the Northern Skuas,
Length 550 mm Closed wing 405 mm Weight 1500 gms
A Bird On! Sketch by Chris Mead
Copyright © 1996 by Jacobi Jayne & Company and Chris Mead