Fun Skuas Facts For Kids

Shirin Biswas
Nov 21, 2022 By Shirin Biswas
Originally Published on Mar 11, 2022
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
Learn some skuas facts with us today!
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.1 Min

Whether it be an Arctic great or Antarctic skuas in question, the aggressive nature of the Stercorarius genus is sure to take you by surprise.

These seabirds are most commonly known for their kleptoparasitic nature, which means that skuas steal food from other animals. In their natural habitat, these birds can be found chasing gulls until they give up their food. This is one of the skuas' adaptations.

When not stealing food, skuas search for fish or penguin chicks to feed on. If you are wondering how to find skuas, there is no need to make any efforts. Skuas are noisy birds, and it is likely that once you know what their call sounds like, finding a colony will be cakewalk!

Skuas Interesting Facts

What type of animal are skuas?

Skuas are birds that are found in the polar regions. These birds can be found at different places depending on the season and are most famous because of their feeding habits.

What class of animals do skuas belong to?

The scientific name of the class that skua birds come under is called 'Aves.' However, it is just as accurate to classify them as birds.

How many skuas are there in the world?

Global populations across the skuas range of habitat would be specific to the species in question. Understandably, some species in the Stercorarius genus are more abundant in numbers than still others. For example, there are more than 15,000 South Polar skuas in the world. At the same time, there are around 30,000-35,000 great skua seabirds in the world.

Where does a skuas live?

Skua birds are most often found in coastal areas. The skuas distribution is limited to such areas because these birds feed on fish and other creatures that they grab from the sea. They are found in the arctic regions as well as temperate areas. Arctic skuas spend most of their lives out at the sea. This species is known to only move towards the shores when the breeding season is near.

What is skuas' habitat?

Skuas are most easily spotted around Antarctica. Bird species of this genus spend the breeding season in northern parts of the world, where there is plenty to eat and space to build breeding colonies. They are also found in northern North America, Asia, Europe, and near the Indian, Pacific, and Antarctic oceans.

Who do skuas live with?

During the breeding season, species such as the South Polar skuas live in large colonies. The size of colonies may depend on the species as well. Most commonly, there are between 10-100 individuals in each breeding colony.

When the breeding season has passed, skua birds become territorial. One thing that remains constant about their social behavior is that these birds are very noisy!

How long does skuas live?

A skuas life expectancy is specific to the species in question. For example, a great skua bird can live to be over 35 years old!

How do they reproduce?

Like most other birds, skuas are oviparous animals. Female skua birds lay eggs instead of giving birth to the young ones. The average clutch size is of one or two eggs and though both of the eggs hatch, it is common for only one of them to survive by the time the nestling as to fledge.

These seabirds make their nests on the ground. The female skua bird is responsible for making the nest, which is typically surrounded by an entire colony of nests. This nest is where the eggs are incubated for 24-34 days. The young ones leave the nest almost immediately, as they look around. For the first 49-59 days, these young seabirds are fed by their parents. The male and female skua birds eat food from the sea near them and then regurgitate it into their nestlings' mouths. After this period, the young ones take their first flight, given that both of them survive!

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of most skua bird species is that of Least Concern. Their populations are stable and these Antarctic and Arctic birds are likely to be around for many years to come!

Skuas Fun Facts

What do skuas look like?

Skuas are the dull-colored Arctic and Antarctic birds. There are only slight variations between the features of the birds of different skuas species. Each bird of the skua family has a plumage that is dominated by brown and black colors. While some species are completely brown-black in color, still others have a white crown area which creates a great visual contrast. These birds typically have wide wings and a black-colored, slightly hooked bill!

A group of skuas is called a 'shishkab.'

How cute are they?

When we learn about just as aggressive a skua bird can be, it becomes slightly difficult to find it adorable. Keeping the aggression and the diet aside, skuas are good-looking birds that have an attractive plumage.

How do they communicate?

These Arctic or Antarctic birds are particularly infamous for their call. Whether it be near its nest, eating food, or simply flying around, these bird species can be very loud and screechy. Feeding and breeding colonies are the noisiest.

How big is a skuas?

Skuas' size is pretty average. Some species are longer than still others, but the general length range remains between 22-48 in (56-121 cm). Clearly, the range is large, which shows that come birds are significantly bigger than the others. Brown skuas and great skuas are amongst the largest species.

How fast can a skuas fly?

Speed is also subjective to the species in question. For example, South Polar skuas can achieve a speed of 31 mph (50 kph). An Arctic skua, on the other hand, can fly at a tremendous speed of 50 mph (80.4 kph)!

How much does a skuas weigh?

Skuas show a very large range of weight as well. This range is of around 0.6-3.6 lb (0.3-1.6 kg). It can be quite tough to imagine that a bird of this weight range would have such an aggressive diet!

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no special names for the male and female skuas. Hence, we refer to them as the male skuas and female skuas respectively.

What would you call a baby skuas?

While they are still bound to their nests, baby skuas are called nestlings!

What do they eat?

Skuas' diet is quite aggressive. They predominantly feed on offal, fish, and carrion. However, one of the rather interesting facts about these birds is that they also steal food from gulls and other seabirds. They feed on dead animals, which is why they are often referred to as parasites.

Are they dangerous?

While there are no records showing that skuas pose any threat to humans, it is best to maintain a safe distance from these birds!

Would they make a good pet?

Skuas live in the Arctic regions and in Antarctica. The most potent problem in having these birds as pets is managing to mimic those climatic conditions. Furthermore, skuas are seabirds and like flying about, which is not something that can be offered in captivity. Most of all, the diet that these birds have is tough to cater to!

Did you know...

South Polar skuas have the same rituals during the breeding season as brown skuas.

South Polar skuas look like gulls.

They eat penguin chicks.

South Polar skuas either make their nests in colonies or in isolated places.

Arctic skuas spend most of their lives away from the shores.

Arctic skuas gain maturity at the age of three years.

Arctic skuas' nests can be found in tundra areas.

Do skuas eat penguins?

Yes, skuas do eat penguin chicks.

Types of skuas and how are they different?

Some of the popular kinds of skuas are Arctic skuas, South Polar or Antarctic skuas, brown skuas and great skuas. The main difference is in terms of their habitat and plumage. For example, the underparts of a South Polar skua are very different from those of an Arctic skua!

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You


See All

Written by Shirin Biswas

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Language and Literature

Shirin Biswas picture

Shirin BiswasBachelor of Arts specializing in English Language and Literature

With a degree in English from Amity University, Noida, Shirin has won awards for oratory, acting, and creative writing. She has a wealth of experience as an English teacher, editor, and writer, having previously worked at Quizzy and Big Books Publishing. Her expertise lies in editing study guides for children and creating engaging content.

Read full bio >