South Polar Skua
(Stercorarius maccormicki)


Picture of bird
© Tony Morris - License
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

South Polar Skuas breed only on ice-free regions of coastal Antarctica. The at-sea distribution of this species is poorly understood. Off the Pacific coast of Canada, South Polar Skuas have been encountered between early June and late November (Campbell et al. 1990a, Kenyon et al. 2009), and off the Atlantic coast of Canada, between late May and early October (ECCC 2017f). Detections are not sufficient to determine if there has been a change in the population status in Canada relative to 1970. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Unrankable2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaData DeficientData DeficientData Deficient

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada< 100 birds occurring seasonally

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Seasonal visitor

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population

Conservation and management

High levels of some persistent organic pollutants have been found in the blood of South Polar Skuas, likely accumulated in polluted overwintering areas (Bustnes et al. 2007, Corsolini et al. 2011). However, it is unknown whether these pollutants have affected the South Polar Skuas’ reproductive success (Bustnes et al. 2007).


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Scotian ShelfScotian Shelf, sub-region and priority type: Atlantic, NS -- Conservation