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Great Skua Catharacta skua
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

IUCN Red List history

Year Category
2012 Least Concern
2009 Least Concern
2008 Least Concern
2004 Least Concern
2000 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1994 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1988 Lower Risk/Least Concern

Species attributes

Migratory status full migrant Forest dependency Does not normally occur in forest
Land mass type   Average mass -


  Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 16,100 medium
Extent of Occurrence non-breeding (km2) 38,400,000 medium
Number of locations -
Fragmentation -

Population & trend

  Estimate Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals poor Estimated 2009
Population trend Stable -
Number of subpopulations - - -
Largest subpopulation - - -
Generation length (yrs) 17.5 - - -
Population justification: The breeding population, which is confined to Europe, is estimated to number 16,000-16,000 breeding pairs, equating to 48,000-48,000 individuals (BirdLife International 2004).
Trend justification: The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Country/Territory distribution

Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Breeding Non-breeding Passage Resident
Algeria Native Extant        
Anguilla (to UK) Unknown Extant        
Antigua and Barbuda Native Extant        
Austria Native Extant     Yes  
Barbados Native Extant        
Belgium Native Extant        
Belize Native Extant        
Bermuda (to UK) Vagrant Extant        
Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (to Netherlands) Native Extant        
Brazil Native Extant        
Bulgaria Native Extant   Yes    
Canada Native Extant        
Cape Verde Native Extant        
Colombia Native Extant        
Côte d'Ivoire Vagrant Extant        
Croatia Vagrant Extant        
Cuba Vagrant Extant        
Curaçao (to Netherlands) Native Extant        
Cyprus Unknown Extant        
Czech Republic Vagrant Extant        
Denmark Native Extant     Yes  
Dominica Native Extant        
Egypt Native Extant        
Faroe Islands (to Denmark) Native Extant Yes      
Finland Vagrant Extant        
France Native Extant   Yes Yes  
French Guiana Native Extant        
Gambia Unknown Extant        
Germany Native Extant        
Ghana Vagrant Extant        
Gibraltar (to UK) Native Extant   Yes    
Greece Vagrant Extant        
Greenland (to Denmark) Native Extant   Yes    
Guadeloupe (to France) Vagrant Extant   Yes    
Guinea Unknown Extant        
Guinea-Bissau Unknown Extant        
Guyana Native Extant        
Hungary Vagrant Extant        
Iceland Native Extant Yes      
Ireland Native Extant Yes      
Israel Vagrant Extant        
Italy Native Extant   Yes    
Latvia Vagrant Extant        
Lebanon Unknown Extant        
Liberia Vagrant Extant        
Libya Native Extant        
Lithuania Vagrant Extant        
Luxembourg Vagrant Extant        
Malta Vagrant Extant        
Martinique (to France) Native Extant        
Mauritania Native Extant        
Montenegro Vagrant Extant        
Montserrat (to UK) Native Extant        
Morocco Native Extant        
Netherlands Native Extant   Yes    
Nigeria Vagrant Extant        
Norway Native Extant Yes      
Panama Native Extant        
Poland Vagrant Extant        
Portugal Native Extant   Yes    
Puerto Rico (to USA) Native Extant        
Romania Vagrant Extant        
Russia (Central Asian) Vagrant Extant   Yes    
Russia (European) Native Extant Yes      
Senegal Vagrant Extant        
Serbia Vagrant Extant        
Sierra Leone Unknown Extant        
Sint Maarten (to Netherlands) Native Extant        
Slovakia Native Extant        
Slovenia Vagrant Extant        
Spain Native Extant   Yes    
St Kitts and Nevis Native Extant        
St Lucia Native Extant        
St Pierre and Miquelon (to France) Native Extant   Yes    
St Vincent and the Grenadines Native Extant        
Suriname Native Extant        
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Native Extant Yes      
Sweden Native Extant        
Switzerland Vagrant Extant   Yes    
Syria Unknown Extant        
Trinidad and Tobago Unknown Extant        
Tunisia Native Extant        
Turkey Vagrant Extant        
United Kingdom Native Extant Yes      
USA Native Extant   Yes    
Venezuela Unknown Extant        
Virgin Islands (to UK) Unknown Extant        
Virgin Islands (to USA) Unknown Extant        
Western Sahara Unknown Extant        

Important Bird Areas where this species has triggered the IBA criteria

Country/Territory IBA Name IBA link
Denmark Skagerrak-Southwest Norwegian trench site factsheet
Faroe Islands (to Denmark) Sandoy site factsheet
Faroe Islands (to Denmark) Skúvoy site factsheet
Faroe Islands (to Denmark) Streymoy site factsheet
Faroe Islands (to Denmark) Vágar site factsheet
Iceland Breidamerkursandur site factsheet
Iceland Öxarfjördur site factsheet
Iceland Skeidarársandur site factsheet
Norway Runde site factsheet
Russia (European) Seven islands site factsheet
Spain Estrecho de Gibraltar site factsheet
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Bjørnøya (Bear Island) site factsheet
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Forlandet National Park site factsheet
United Kingdom Fair Isle site factsheet
United Kingdom Foula site factsheet
United Kingdom Handa site factsheet
United Kingdom Hermaness, Saxa Vord and Valla Field site factsheet
United Kingdom Hoy site factsheet
United Kingdom Noss site factsheet
United Kingdom Ronas Hill - North Roe and Tingon site factsheet
United Kingdom Sandwick and Clift Hills site factsheet
United Kingdom South Bressay site factsheet
United Kingdom St Kilda site factsheet

Habitats & altitude

Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Grassland Tundra major breeding
Marine Neritic Macroalgal/Kelp suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Macroalgal/Kelp suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Pelagic major breeding
Marine Neritic Pelagic major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Seagrass (Submerged) suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Seagrass (Submerged) suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy-Mud suitable breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy-Mud suitable non-breeding
Marine Oceanic Epipelagic (0-200m) suitable non-breeding
Marine Oceanic Mesopelagic (200-1000m) suitable non-breeding
Altitude 0 - 0 m Occasional altitudinal limits  

Threats & impact

Threat (level 1) Threat (level 2) Impact and Stresses
Climate change & severe weather Habitat shifting & alteration Timing Scope Severity Impact
Future Whole (>90%) Unknown Unknown
Indirect ecosystem effects, Ecosystem degradation


Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Pets Whole Adults and juveniles Wild International Non-trivial Recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Catharacta skua. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Stercorariidae (Skuas)
Species name author Brünnich, 1764
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Stable
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 16,100 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Summary information on this species
- 2015 European Red List assessment