1154. Great Skua.
Stercorarius catarrhactes (Linn.), Syst. Nat. i. p. 226 (1766) ; (Naum.), x. p. 470, Taf. 270 ; (Hewitson), ii. p. 505, pl. xlii. ; (Gould), B. of E. v. pl. 439 ; (id.), B. of Gt. Brit. v. pl. 78 ; Dresser, viii. p. 457, pl. 609 : (Saunders), Cat. B. Br. Mus. xxv. p. 315 ; (id.), Manual, p. 687 ; (Lilford), vi. p. 69, pl. 31 ; Cataracta skua, Retz. Faun. Suec. p. 161 (1800) ; Ridgway, p. 21.
Labbe cataracte, French ; Grosse Raubmowe, German ; Groote Jager, Dutch ; Havskumur, Hakallaskumur, Icel. ; Stor-Kjove, Dan. ; Skua, Storjo, Norweg. ; Storlabb, Swed.
Male ad. (Faeroes). General coloration dark brown marked with yellowish red ; crown, rump, and upper tail-coverts almost uniform dark brown, the feathers on the rest of the upper parts with rufous or rusty yellowish tips ; basal half of primaries white forming an alar patch ; tail blackish brown, marked with white at the extreme base ; throat feathers with yellowish shaft markings ; abdomen tinged, and flanks slightly marked with rufous ; bill black, paler at the base ; legs and feet blackish ; iris dark brown. Culmen 2.4, wing 15.6, tail 7.0, tarsus 2.7 inch. Sexes alike. The young bird is more distinctly marked with yellowish, and has more white on the wings and tail.
Hab. Iceland, the Faeroes, and Shetlands in summer ; rarer in South Greenland ; scarce in Scandinavia ; in winter south to the Straits of Gibraltar ; a rare straggler to Germany, Switzer-land, N. Italy, and the Mediterranean.
Essentially predatory in its habits the Skua seldom takes the trouble to fish for itself, but despoils the Gulls of their prey, and also takes numbers of young sea birds and eggs ; it also feeds on carrion when obtainable. Its cry is a somewhat harsh skui, skui, and when disturbed and flying over its nesting place it utters a cry not unlike the cackling of a Goose. Its nest is a depression in the mossy ground on islands and high moorlands, scantily lined with dry grass and moss, and though not actually breeding in societies, several pairs are fre¬quently found near together. Two eggs are deposited late in May, which are dull greenish olive-brown, some greener and others browner in tinge, marked with dark brown, and measure about 2.87 by 1.86.
1154. Stercorarius catarrhactes
1154. Great Skua.