Skua’s are sometimes called Avian pirates because they are so very aggressive and live at sea. This nick name is more than well earned.
The Skua steals a great deal of its food from terns, puffins, and other birds that are carrying fish or other food items back to their nests and young.
The Arctic Skua, or the Pirate Bird
The Skua will strike midair, attacking and forcking the hapless victim to drop its kill in midair, or they will team up to overwhelm the other birds, and will chase them down and physically take the prey if the victim of their robbery tactics won’t drop it.
In North America they are called Parasitic Jaegers. This is a LONG long name that merely means that they are Kleptoparasites, or steal food from others, while the Jaeger comes from the German word ” Hunter”.
Some Skuas make their complete living by stealing from others, while some only use this tactic part of the time. While they are breeding they very often use their own hunting skills, taking eggs, small birds and mammals and fish on their own accord.
Most of the entire life of the Arctic Skua is spent at sea, coming ashore only to breed in the mid summer of the Arctic. The female will lay two to three eggs and incubate them on ground nests, raising them til flight stages.
One the young ones leave the nest, they will probably not visit land again until they reach breeding age themselves, which takes about two years.
The Arctic Skua is a vast and lengthy traveler who will migrate to the Southern Hemisphere in wintertime on the arctic, traveling several thousand miles to do so.
Skuas of the same species will be both light and dark-colored although there is no difference between the two and scientists are not yet sure what natural advantages each color affords.