Story: Gulls, terns and skuas

Subantarctic skuas feeding

Subantarctic skuas feeding

Skuas often collaborate to tear up large prey, as ornithologist Edgar Stead observed:

‘A trio which used to feed on the cleared ground in front of our hut on Solomon Island [near Stewart Island], partitioned their prey in the most polite manner imaginable. Number one would take the bird, say a dove petrel, in its bill, getting a good firm grip, then hold it towards number two, who would pull off and swallow its head. Number three would then pull off a wing, and then perhaps number two would hold it while number one had a mouthful.’

From Edgar Stead, The life histories of New Zealand birds. London: Search, 1932, p. 66

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Photograph by Fred Bruemmer

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How to cite this page:

Gerard Hutching, 'Gulls, terns and skuas - Skuas', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 3 July 2022)

Story by Gerard Hutching, published 12 Jun 2006, reviewed & revised 17 Feb 2015