Environmental Research Unit, PO Box 434, Stanley, Falkland Islands
Falkland SkuaCatharacta antarctica
Local Name: Sea Hen
Breeding Range: Falklands and Argentina
Falklands Population: ~5,000 breeding pairs
World Population: ~7,000 breeding pairs
The Skua is widely distributed around the Falklands coast, but nowhere is it abundant. It nests singly or in small colonies near to sources of prey, such as penguin and cormorant colonies from which it steals eggs and young. Nests are simple hollows in nearby heath or grassland, with 1 to 3 eggs being laid during November or December. By laying later than most other species it ensures a ready supply of seabird eggs and young on which to feed its own brood. The skua is very aggressive in defence of its nest site, and will often dive-bomb people walking too close. The young fledge in February, and in April adults and juveniles migrate northwards up the coast of South America for the winter. Skuas are often persecuted for taking penguin chicks, but their role is important, and their world population is small and fragile.