South Polar Skua
South Polar Skua Dark: Small, gull-like skua, occurs in two color phases. Dark phase adult has dark brown body, large white patch at base of primaries visible in flight. Dark bill, thick and heavy; short, broad tail. Light phase adult has pale gray-brown head and underparts. Strong direct flight.
Range and Habitat
South Polar Skua Dark: Nests in Antarctica in sheltered areas adjacent to penguin colonies. Migrates to offshore Pacific and Atlantic coasts of North America. Pelagic, comes ashore only to breed.
During the summer they stake territories near Adélie penguin rookeries, raiding them for eggs, chicks, and also cleaning up carrion. Thus, they have earned the nickname, 'raptor of the south'.
The South Polar Skua is named after the naval surgeon Robert McCormick, who collected the first specimen. They were formerly known as the McCormick’s Skua. They are recognized as the world's most southerly bird and have been sighted at the South Pole.
Until recently, all the skuas of the world were thought to be a single species, but now some experts believe there may be as many as five species. On some southern islands, two forms nest side by side without interbreeding, proving that they are different species.
A group of skuas are collectively known as a "shishkab" of skuas.