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South Polar Skua

South Polar Skuas glide just off the Pacific Coast each fall. Skuas are prone to piracy, stealing fish from gulls and terns by chasing them down. These birds are also fierce predators on their Antarctic nesting grounds, raiding penguin colonies, eating eggs and young chicks alike. The word "skua" dates back to Old Norse. The skua's annual appearance in the fall is part of an immense, annual clockwise migration, north from Antarctica to Japan, and then back south along the edge of North America. Learn more at BirdWeb.

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Transcript: 
BirdNote®
South Polar Skua

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote!
 [Screams of South Polar Skua]
 One of the most feared pirates on earth glides just off the Pacific Coast each fall. [South Polar Skua screams] This is no made-for-the-movies pirate from Hollywood [Some clichéd bit of pirate voice, like “aaargh”, etc.], but a rapacious winged visitor from Antarctica – the South Polar Skua.
 Picture a large, dark gull on steroids. The hulking skua’s broad wings measure more than four feet across, and blaze with bold white crescents near the tips. Its bill hooks sharply at the tip, ideal for rending flesh.
 South Polar Skuas live much of the year by piracy. They rob fish from gulls and terns by chasing them down. Skuas are also fierce predators on their Antarctic nesting grounds. Here they raid penguin colonies, eating eggs and young chicks alike. (Screams of South Polar Skuas) The word “skua” dates all the way back to the speakers of Old Norse, who knew well the bird’s ferocity.
  The skua’s annual appearance in the fall is part of an immense, annual clockwise migration, north from Antarctica to Japan, and then back south along the edge of North America. And true to its name, the South Polar Skua ranks as the earth’s most southerly ranging bird: it has actually been seen at the South Pole!
I’m Frank Corrado.
###

Call of the South Polar Skua provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by G.F. Budney.
Ambient recorded by Kessler Productions.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2007 Tune In to Nature.org      Revised for Oct. 2009

ID#100307SPSKKPLU

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