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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.

Illustrations

Overview

Latin name

Stercorarius longicaudus

Family

Skuas (Stercorariidae)

Where to see them

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.

When to see them

May to November (particularly August-September).

What they eat

Small mammals, and when at sea, small fish, offal and carrion.

Population

EuropeUK breeding*UK wintering*UK passage*
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Distribution

Key

Audio

Patrik Aberg, Xeno-canto