The Skua is the bad boy of the Southern Ocean. Egg stealer, penguin chick grabber, bully, carrion eater, kleptoparasite; by human standards, this is a bad bird.
They work in pairs to steal Gentoo Penguin eggs, with one distracting the penguin and the other stealing the egg. They are smart, skilled predators. But in the hour or so that WC watched this particular Gentoo colony, no Skua raid was successful.
The taxonomy of Skuas is hotly disputed. Some ornithologists have as many as three species; other insist that all Skuas are subspecies of the Great Skua. Certainly there were color variations across the areas WC visited.
Some ornithologists call Skuas “notoriously brutish creatures” but that’s unfair. They are doing what they evolved to do. It’s a mistake to project human values on another species. It’s a cousin to North America’s three species of Jaeger and, like the Jaeger, has generalist approach to dinner and feeding its kids. And it is highly successful at it.
For more bird photos, please visit Frozen Feather Images.