Arctic skua

Stercorarius arcticus

What do they look like?

Arctic Skuas can be seen in two different colour phases in Scotland. In the ‘pale’ phase, its dark cap, back and tail contrasts with a yellowy white underside and neck. In its ‘dark’ phase it is almost completely a dark brown/black colour, apart from pale wingtips. Although only medium in size, Arctic skuas are widely regarded as the pirates of the seabirds, chasing other seabirds and stealing the fish they have caught. They will also sometimes steal eggs or kill small adult seabirds.

When can I see them in Scotland?

April - September

Where can I see them in Scotland?

During the summer months, Arctic Skuas can be spotted around coastal moorlands on the north and west coasts of Scotland, as well as on Shetland and Orkney. They can also be spotted during spring and autumn from coastal locations, especially around other seabird colonies where they can readily access food.

Conservation Status:

In the UK, bird species with breeding, passage or wintering populations are assessed by experts and assigned to the Red, Amber or Green lists of conservation concern. Arctic skua are currently an ‘Red’ listed species.

25-28 days
25-30 days
12 years
Average lifespan

Arctic skua standing on grass
(c) Lorne Gill