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Conservation status: Red

A medium-sized dark-looking seabird with pointed wings, and pale patches at the wingtips. Often seen flying low and fast above the waves in pursuit of a tern or other bird, sometimes chasing it high into the air, twisting and turning, to make it drop its food. It comes to land only to breed and is aggressive towards intruders into its breeding territory.



Latin name

Stercorarius parasiticus


Skuas (Stercorariidae)

Where to see them

In summer it is most easily seen in the Shetland and Orkney islands, and on some coastal moorlands of north and west Scotland; on passage best looked for from coasts in August and September, especially in areas near tern colonies where there are good numbers of feeding terns.

When to see them

Summer (on breeding grounds) and spring and autumn (on passage).

What they eat

Mainly fish, some eggs and young birds.


EuropeUK breeding*UK wintering*UK passage*
-2,136 pairs--



In the UK
Northern Scotland (breeding) and around coasts (passage)
In Europe
Iceland, N Scandinavia
N and S America, Europe, Africa and Asia


Lauri Hallikainen, Xeno-canto

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