Great Skua

Great Skua (Stercorarius skua)

Great Skua is a large and strong built bird. It nests in colonies in flat coastal areas and the largest colonies in Iceland are by the sandy coast of South Iceland. The skua defends its eggs and young aggressively. It flies at the head of the intruder at great speed turning away only short distance before it hits it. This scary behaviour is done to frighten away the intruder and is usually very effective. Sometimes the skua hits people in the head with its legs causing injuries with its sharp claws. Skuas feed by chasing other birds and steal food from them but they also eat eggs, young and adult birds that they kill, such as ducks and fulmars.


Great Skuas are common in Skjálfandi Bay and are often seen from whale watching boats. The nearest colony is on the sandy flats of Öxarfjörður Bay, which is the only nesting colony in north Iceland.


57 cm


1,200-1,800 g


132-140 cm


 5,000-6,000 pairs