Catharacta maccormicki


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Catharacta maccormicki
Species Authority: (Saunders, 1893)
Common Name(s):
English South Polar Skua
French Labbe de McCormick
Stercorarius maccormicki (Saunders, 1893)
Stercorarius maccormicki maccormicki Christidis and Boles (2008)
Stercorarius maccormicki maccormicki AOU checklist (1998 + supplements)
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. We accept the view in Chu et al. (2009) that Catharacta is best merged in Stercorarius.

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.
This species has a very large range, and hence does not 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 South Polar Skua breeds throughout the Antarctic coast, especially in the Ross Sea rea. It undergoes a transequatorial migration, wintering as far north as Alaska (USA) and Greenland (to Denmark).

Antarctica; Antigua and Barbuda; Argentina; Barbados; Brazil; Canada; Chile; Costa Rica; Dominica; Falkland Islands (Malvinas); French Guiana; Guadeloupe; Japan; Maldives; Martinique; Mexico; Micronesia, Federated States of ; Montserrat; Mozambique; Namibia; New Zealand; Panama; Peru; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Saint Pierre and Miquelon; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Seychelles; South Africa; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; Suriname; Trinidad and Tobago; United States
Australia; Bermuda; Comoros; Ecuador; Egypt; Fiji; Greenland; India; Indonesia; Israel; Jordan; Kenya; Mauritius; Oman; Portugal; Somalia; Sri Lanka; Yemen
Present - origin uncertain:
Bouvet Island; Guatemala; Palau; Virgin Islands, British; Virgin Islands, U.S.
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The population is placed in the band 10,000-19,999 individuals, equating to 6,667-13,333 mature individuals, rounded here to 6,000-15,000 mature individuals.
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The South Polar Skua breeds on relatively snow-free areas in Antartica (del Hoyo et al. 1992). It is usually reliant on fish (Pietz 1987), with predation on penguins being of variable importance (del Hoyo et al. 1992). It can, however, subside exclusively on penguins where a breeding colony is associated to a penguin rookery (Trillmich 1978, Young and Miller 1999). It is a trans-equatorial migrant, wintering in the North Pacific and North Atlantic (del Hoyo et al. 1992).
Systems: Terrestrial; Marine

Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Catharacta maccormicki. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 28 August 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