Catharacta skua


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Catharacta skua
Species Authority: (Brünnich, 1764)
Common Name(s):
English Great Skua
French Grand Labbe
Stercorarius skua Brünnich, 1764
Stercorarius skua skua AOU checklist (1998 + supplements)
Stercorarius skua skua Cramp and Simmons (1977-1994)
Taxonomic Notes: Catharacta skua, C. lonnbergi, C. antarctica and C. maccormicki (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993), cross-regional species, are retained as separate species contra Christidis and Boles (1994) and Turbott (1990) who include lonnbergi and antarctica as subspecies of C. skua and AERC TAC (2003) who include C. maccormicki as a subspecies of C. skua.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Butchart, S., Calvert, R. & Ekstrom, J.
Although this species may have a small range, it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The Great Skua breeds in Iceland, Norway, Svalbard (to Norway), the Faroe Islands (to Denmark), the Scottish islands and a few on mainland Scotland. It is a migratory species, normally wintering off the Atlantic coast of France and the Iberian Peninsulas, but juveniles can reach as far as Cape Verde, the coast of Brazil, areas of the Caribbean and small numbers also winter on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland (Canada) (del Hoyo et al. 1996).
Algeria; Antigua and Barbuda; Austria; Barbados; Belgium; Belize; Brazil; Bulgaria; Canada; Cape Verde; Colombia; Denmark; Dominica; Egypt; Faroe Islands; France; French Guiana; Germany; Gibraltar; Greenland; Guyana; Iceland; Ireland; Italy; Libya; Martinique; Mauritania; Montserrat; Morocco; Netherlands; Norway; Panama; Portugal; Puerto Rico; Russian Federation; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Saint Pierre and Miquelon; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Slovakia; Spain; Suriname; Svalbard and Jan Mayen; Sweden; Tunisia; United Kingdom; United States
Bermuda; Côte d'Ivoire; Croatia; Cuba; Czech Republic; Finland; Ghana; Greece; Guadeloupe; Hungary; Israel; Latvia; Liberia; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Malta; Montenegro; Nigeria; Poland; Romania; Senegal; Serbia (Serbia); Slovenia; Switzerland; Turkey
Present - origin uncertain:
Anguilla; Cyprus; Gambia; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Lebanon; Sierra Leone; Syrian Arab Republic; Trinidad and Tobago; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of; Virgin Islands, British; Virgin Islands, U.S.; Western Sahara
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The breeding population, which is confined to Europe, is estimated to number 16,000-16,000 breeding pairs, equating to 48,000-48,000 individuals (BirdLife International 2004).
For further information about this species, see 22694160_catharacta_skua.pdf.
A PDF viewer such as Adobe Reader is required.
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This marine species avoids land during migration and winter, aggregating in winter in areas where it can scavenge from fisheries. It has a hugely varied diet owing to be being a highly opportunistic feeder. Individuals regularly show individual specialisations in diet and feeding with some colony-specific learning. Breeding begins in May, and it is loosely colonial but highly territorial, breeding on islands on flat ground with some vegetation cover, usually avoiding human contact. Most birds breed within 1 km of their birth place (del Hoyo et al. 1996).
Systems: Terrestrial; Marine

Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Catharacta skua. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 01 September 2015.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided