Story: Seabirds – overview

Subantarctic skua

Subantarctic skua

Subantarctic skuas are members of the Charadriiformes order. Outside the breeding period, seabirds stay out at sea, close to their food source. But while breeding they need dry land to nest, lay eggs and care for their chicks. Travelling from the nesting site to gather seafood takes time and energy. Skuas and giant petrels solve the problem by breeding close to seal, penguin, or other seabird colonies, becoming predators and scavengers. This subantarctic (or brown) skua is feeding on a dead fur seal pup on the Antipodes Islands. Subantarctic skuas breed on Stewart Island, the Chathams and the subantarctic islands. Their colonies are small, relative to the size of the penguin or other colonies they depend on for food.

Using this item

Department of Conservation
Reference: 10048693
Photograph by Tim Higham

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How to cite this page:

Kerry-Jayne Wilson, 'Seabirds – overview - Who are the seabirds?', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 7 December 2021)

Story by Kerry-Jayne Wilson, published 12 Jun 2006, reviewed & revised 17 Feb 2015