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Birds by name
Conservation status: Green
The long-tailed skua is a medium-sized seabird and our smallest skua. It is the size of a black-headed gull, with slim wings and long delicate tail streamers. It is greyish above, and dusky below with a pale breast. It has a dark cap on the head and has a dark bill. Juvenile birds and greyer and more barred than juvenile Arctic and Pomarine Skuas, but are tricky to identify. It is a passage migrant to the UK, breeding in the high Arctic. Good numbers of birds spend the winter off west African coasts and off Brazilian and Argentinian coasts.
This scarce passage migrant is best looked for from seawatching places on the east coast, particularly in September. Another good place to see them is from the Outer Hebrides in May. Onshore winds and rough weather further out to sea are the best conditions for bringing them to our coasts.
May to November (particularly August-September).
Small mammals, and when at sea, small fish, offal and carrion.
* UK breeding is the number of pairs breeding annually. UK wintering is the number of individuals present from October to March. UK passage is the number of individuals passing through on migration in spring and/or autumn.
Please note that the map is only intended as a guide. It shows general distribution rather than detailed, localised populations.
Patrik Aberg, Xeno-canto