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the web of life in southern Africa

Stercorarius pomarinus (Pomarine jaeger, Pomarine skua) 

Knopstertroofmeeu [Afrikaans]; Middelste jager [Dutch]; Labbe pomarin [French]; Spatelraubmöwe [German]; Moleiro-pomarino [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Charadriiformes > Family: Laridae  > Genus: Stercorarius

Pomarine jaeger adult, offshore of California, USA. [photo Jeff Poklen ©]

Stercorarius pomarinus (Pomarine jaeger, Pomarine skua) 
Pomarine jaeger adult, pelagic trip off of Cape Town, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©] Pomarine jaeger juvenile, offshore of California, USA. [photo Jeff Poklen ©]

Distribution and habitat

Breeds in the tundra of the Arctic Circle, heading south in the non-breeding season to the tropics and south temperate oceans off Asia, Australasia, South America and Africa. In southern African waters it is common off northern and central Namibia, while more scarce along the coast of South Africa and southern Mozambique. It generally prefers inshore waters, rarely moving further out to sea or to coastal wetlands and sheltered embayments.

Movements and migrations

Departs from its breeding grounds in the period from August-October (earlier if the breeding attempt failed), arriving in southern Africa in late September and October. It eventually leaves in April, although it rarely stays over winter.


Most of its foraging is done by stealing food from other birds, such as terns, gulls, gannets, petrels and shearwaters, often forcing them down to the water so that they release their catch. It also captures prey from the water surface, scavenges behind fishing vessels and kills and eats small or weakened seabirds.


Not threatened.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.