Hihi volunteer needed

Date posted: 18-Oct-2018

Would you like to volunteer with the Island's hihi team and learn from them how ..

2019 Calendars now available

Date posted: 05-Sep-2018

The new 2019 calendars are now available and this year's is better than ever! Th..

Winners of kokako photo competition

Date posted: 02-Sep-2018

The stunning winning photographs from those submitted to the competition as part..

Kokako Celebration

Date posted: 21-Jul-2018


Kokako Photographic Competition

Date posted: 20-Jul-2018

KĊŒKAKO PHOTOGRAPHIC COMPETITION Celebrating 21 years on Tiritiri Matangi To ce..

New monitoring reports published

Date posted: 19-Jul-2018

Reports on monitoring studies carried out over the past year have now been poste..

2018 Concert coming up soon

Date posted: 15-Feb-2018

Our 2018 concert will feature an afternoon of light classics and jazz courtesy of the Auckland Ph..

Wetapunga talk coming soon

Date posted: 05-Feb-2018

For the Social on 19 March the speaker will be Ben Goodwin of Auckland Zoo, who will talk about t..

Rat caught and now takahe released from pens

Date posted: 28-Jan-2018

Thankfully DOC staff Andre de Graaf and Polly Hall and their assistants have trapped the rat whic..

Your Christmas Shopping for a Song

Date posted: 04-Dec-2017

Aka - The Grand Christmas Shopping Expedition to Tiritiri Matangi Island Shop Dreading..

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




 Not in NZ



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.