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New England Seabirds

 Wilson's Storm-petrel  Dave Jones

Jaegers and Skuas
Pomarine Jaeger
Parasitic Jaeger
Long-tailed Jaeger
South Polar Skua
Great Skua

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Jaegers and Skuas


Pomarine Jaeger

Stercorarius pomarinus

Pomarine Jaeger Leonard Medlock

Pomarine Jaeger by Leonard Medlock.


Other Names
Pomarine Skua (Europe)

How To See
On any pelagic in the New England 0 -2 jaegers may be seen from July - October. Some of these will be Parasitic and rarely Long-tailed Jaeger. Scan any group of gulls following a fishing vessel for very dark birds. More seen off the Pacific coast.

Circumpolar in the arctic with the exception of area from Greenland to the Murman Peninsula of north Russia an area devoid of Lemmings. ( Olsen &Larson 1997). The size of a pair's territory depends upon the population of food prey. Unusual in this group in that it does not exhibit mate or site fidelity. This is probably because of its absolute dependence on Lemmings for food on the breeding grounds. Males establish a territory in an area with adequate Lemmings and wait to attract a mate.  In this respect the Pomarine Jaeger more closely resembles land birds rather than seabirds.

In fall the Pomarine Jaeger heads south sometimes by circuitous routes and often in large groups. More migrate down the Pacific than the Atlantic Ocean. Others migrate over land showing up at the Great Lakes. Most winter north of the equator and thus north of the primary wintering range of the Parasitic and Long-tailed Jaeger.  Smaller numbers winter south of the equator around western South America, Africa and Australia.

On the breeding grounds subsists almost entirely on Lemmings. Lemming populations in any one place fluctuate from year to year. There are always places with good Lemming populations, but a spot that is good one year may have very few the next year. This is probably the reason that Pomarine Jaegers do not nest in the same spot year after year and do not mate for life. Male Pomarine Jaegers wander the breeding territory searching for a spot with adequate Lemmings. Once they find one they establish a territory and look for a mate. Skuas and other jaeger species show site and mate fidelity. They cope with shortages of Lemmings by switching to other food items during lean years. At sea the Pomeranian feeds on small birds (Red-necked Phalaropes ), weak birds, scavanges, and uses kleptoparaisitism.

Pomarine Jaeger Leonard Medlock

Pomarine Jaeger flying Leonard Medlock

Pomarine jaeger Steve Mirick

Pomarine Jaeger flying Steve Mirick.

Pomarine Jaeger on water EB Tarry

Same Jaeger as left sitting on water. EB Tarry

Seabirds | Jaegers & SkuasPomarine jaeger | Parasitic JaegerLong-tailed JaegerSouth Polar Skua | Great Skua

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Harrison, Peter (1983) Seabirds an identification guide Houghton Mifflin Company; Boston

Olsen, Klaus Mailing & Larsson, Hans (1997) Skuas and Jaegers A Guide to the Skuas and Jaegers of the World Yale University Press New Haven and London