Falkland Skua
and other predator birds

Falkland Islands Feb 2012
Skuas including the Falkland Skua are much hated. Indeed, the warden at Volunteer Point said that the reason there were no
skuas there was because his predecessor killed them. The new warden is much more progressive and expects the skua to
return gradually.

Skuas are always lurking around colonies of penguins and shags looking for an egg, small chick, dead bird, or anything else to
eat.
Skuas are often persecuted for taking penguin chicks, but their role is important, and their world population is small and fragile.
Nests are simple hollows in nearby heath or grassland, with 1 to 3 eggs being laid during November or December.

By laying later than most other species it ensures a ready supply of seabird eggs and young on which to feed its own brood.

The skua is very aggressive in defence of its nest site, and will often dive-bomb people walking too close.

The young fledge in February, and in April adults and juveniles migrate northwards up the coast of South America for the
winter.
Unlike the parents, the Skua chicks are cute. Since they are small and live anywhere on the ground, we were attacked on
several occasions by Skua parents defending chicks we had not seen.
Like most birds, Skuas enjoy bathing and playing in water. To our surprise, these birds enjoyed floating upside down in the
water.
The Striated Caracara is a bird of prey. In the Falkland Islands it is known as the Johnny Rook.

The Striated Caracara is primarily a scavenger, feeding on carrion, offal and small invertebrates that it digs up with its claws.
However it will also prey on weak or injured creatures, such as young seabirds. Its habit of attacking newborn lambs and
weakened sheep has led it to be ruthlessly persecuted by sheep farmers. Today it is an endangered bird and numbers only
about 500 birds in the Falklands.
The Striated Caracara is a curious and intelligent bird and will steal small objects such as cameras.
he Turkey Vulture is the largest and most abundant bird of prey in the Falklands. It is found in virtually all areas and in all
habitat types, but chooses rocky crags, caves and tussac islands for nesting.
Giant Petrels are often seen around Stanley and other settlements scavenging for debris throughout the year, but their main
diet comprises of squid and crustaceans at sea, the eggs and chicks of seabirds, and carrion.
Dolphin Gulls are widely distributed around the Falklands coast, but their breeding sites are more restricted.

They usually nest in small colonies on sand or shingle beaches, coastal plains or inland near to large ponds. Such colonies
are often mixed with other nesting gulls or terns.

The nest is a simple hollow lined with vegetation, in which 2 to 3 eggs are laid during December. As the chicks mature they
form into creches, allowing both parents to collect food.

Chicks fledge by March. Dolphin Gulls feed and scavenge on variety of food, from mussels to carrion.

They are often seen harassing penguin colonies, but in fact do little harm since they mostly take discarded scraps and excreta.

The world population of 6,000 breeding pairs  is very small with the majority of 4,000 breeding pairs being in the Falklands.
Kelp Gulls are extremely common along coasts all around the Falklands, but they mostly breed on remote coastal plains where
human disturbance is minimal.

Colonies of up to several hundred pairs make rudimentary nests in hollows lined with vegetation. Preferred sites are sand or
shingle beaches, sand dunes, or heath and grassland behind the beach.

Kelp Gulls are intelligent birds, able to feed as predators or scavengers. Their diet includes eggs, chicks, marine
invertebrates, carrion and refuse.