The Long-tailed Skua resembles terns with its long tail streamers and narrow wings. The Long-tailed Skua breeds in the Arctic, treeless regions in Northern Europe, Northern Canada and Alaska and Siberia. By distribution, Long-tailed Skua is one of the northernmost breeders, as it only breeds in the northern parts of Enontekiö, Utsjoki and Inari. The number of Long-tailed Skua breeding fluctuates highly, as it is dependent on the populations of voles and lemmings in the region. In Finland, the breeding population is estimated to be 100 – 5 000 pairs.
According to the latest conservation status assessment, the Long-tailed Skua is classified as near threatened. In poor vole and lemming years, it may not breed at all. In those years, the skuas leave their traditional breeding grounds well before the beginning of autumn. In addition to voles, the Long-tailed Skuas also utilise a variety of other food resources. Like the Common Kestrel, they can hover in the air. Long-tailed Skua overwinters in the high seas in the Atlantic. Unlike other species of skua, the Long-tailed Skuas do not have a dark coloured morph, although young individuals may have a predominantly brown plumage. To date, little research has been done on the Long-tailed Skua, and its ecology is still poorly known.
Text: Jukka Jokimäki & Marja-Liisa Kaisanlahti-Jokimäki
Read more about Long-tailed Skua:
Flying Arctic -frontpage.