New reports on ruru nesting and Island conservation

Date posted: 02-Oct-2017

Two new reports have been added to the website. The first gives details of a summer students..

2018 calendars now available

Date posted: 27-Sep-2017

Our latest calendar, beautifully illustrated with images taken on the Island, is now available fo..

Guided walks for photographers

Date posted: 21-Jun-2017

For a wonderful day of wildlife photography please join us on Tiritiri Matangi Island for a Ph..

Ferry discounts for Supporters

Date posted: 18-May-2017

Tiritiri Matangi Island, the perfect winter's day trip. The birds are at their best, warm up w..

More kiwi for the Island

Date posted: 04-Apr-2017

In 1993 and 1995, sixteen little spotted kiwi were released on Tiritiri Matangi Island. The ma..

2017 Photo Competition

Date posted: 22-Mar-2017

It is that time of year again when we are looking for entries for our photo competition (and phot..

The 2017 concert

Date posted: 05-Feb-2017

This year's concert promises to be another wonderful and unique experience. Click here (/concert-..

Shorebird Film Festival at Devonport

Date posted: 26-Oct-2016

Click here (/miscellaneous documents/DevWaderFilms.jpg) for details of a forthcoming film festival c..

Extra Dawn Chorus Trip

Date posted: 20-Oct-2016

Stop Press: Extra Dawn Chorus trip now scheduled for Thursday 27th October 2016. ..

2016 AGM

Date posted: 06-Sep-2016

The 2016 AGM was held at the Kohia Centre at 7:30 pm on Monday 19th September. Click here (/..

Arctic Skua

Scientific name:

 Stercorarius parasiticus

 

 

Conservation status:

 Migrant seabird

Mainland status:

 Seen over summer off the NZ coast and in large coastal harbours and sounds

Size:  43cm, 400gm

Lifespan:

 Unknown

Breeding:

 Not in NZ

Diet:

 Fish


The Arctic skua migrates to New Zealand coastal waters during November to April and is the most numerous skua, seen often either settled on the water or harrying white-fronted terns or red-billed gulls (see photo below), forcing them to disgorge fish which are then caught and eaten in mid air.

This bird is dimorphic, occurring in dark (about 80% in NZ) or light mottled plumage phases. All adults have a black bill, legs and feet and a dark underwing with a single pale patch at the base of the primaries. Upperparts are dark except for 3–4 pale shafts at the base of the primaries. The dark phase can have white flecks on the rump and the pale phase has a less distinct cap, streaked undertail and pale flecks on the rump and uppertail. When in New Zealand the bird is usually silent.

Breeding occurs in the Arctic and Subarctic where they usually lay two brown eggs in a shallow scrape or cup of vegetation.

In late summer and early autumn arctic skuas are often seen from the coastal tracks on Tiritiri Matangi. They often harass the gulls and terns that fish offshore from Fisherman's Bay and the wharf.

Find out more about the arctic skua at New Zealand Birds Online.

Photographs: Martin Sanders ©

References: Heather, B.D.; Robertson, H.A. 2000 The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand. Auckland, Viking.  Moon, G The Reed Field Guide to New Zealand Birds.