South Polar Skua Catharacta maccormicki


Taxonomic note
Catharacta maccormicki (del Hoyo and Collar 2014) was previously placed in the genus Stercorarius.

Catharacta skua,
C. antarctica and C. maccormicki (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993), cross-regional species, are retained as separate species contra Christidis and Boles (1994) and Turbott (1990) who include lonnbergi and antarctica as subspecies of C. skua and AERC TAC (2003) who include C. maccormicki as a subspecies of C. skua.

Taxonomic source(s)
Christidis, L. and Boles, W.E. 2008. Systematics and Taxonomy of Australian Birds. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.
del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.
SACC. 2005 and updates. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #
Turbott, E.G. 1990. Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand. Ornithological Society of New Zealand, Wellington.

IUCN Red List criteria met and history
Red List criteria met
Critically Endangered Endangered Vulnerable
- - -

Red List history
Year Category Criteria
2018 Least Concern
2016 Least Concern
2012 Least Concern
2009 Least Concern
2008 Least Concern
2004 Least Concern
2000 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1994 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1988 Lower Risk/Least Concern
Species attributes

Migratory status full migrant Forest dependency does not normally occur in forest
Land-mass type Average mass -

Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 13,600,000 medium
Extent of Occurrence non-breeding (km2) 23,300,000 medium
Severely fragmented? no -
Population and trend
Value Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
Number of mature individuals 6000-15000 poor estimated 2009
Population trend stable suspected -
Generation length (years) 17.1 - - -

Population justification: The population is placed in the band 10,000-19,999 individuals, equating to 6,667-13,333 mature individuals, rounded here to 6,000-15,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification: The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Country/territory distribution
Country/Territory Presence Origin Resident Breeding Non-breeding Passage
Antarctica extant native yes
Antigua and Barbuda extant native yes
Argentina extant native yes
Australia extant vagrant yes
Barbados extant native yes
Bermuda (to UK) extant vagrant yes
Bouvet Island (to Norway) extant uncertain
Brazil extant native yes
Canada extant native yes
Chile extant native yes
Comoros extant vagrant yes
Costa Rica extant native yes
Dominica extant native yes
Ecuador extant vagrant yes
Egypt extant vagrant yes
Falkland Islands (Malvinas) extant native yes
Fiji extant vagrant yes
French Guiana extant native yes
Greenland (to Denmark) extant vagrant yes
Guadeloupe (to France) extant native yes
Guatemala extant uncertain yes
India extant vagrant yes
Indonesia extant vagrant yes
Israel extant vagrant yes
Japan extant native yes
Jordan extant vagrant yes
Kenya extant vagrant yes
Maldives extant native yes
Martinique (to France) extant native yes
Mauritania extant native yes
Mauritius extant vagrant yes
Mexico extant native yes
Micronesia, Federated States of extant native yes
Montserrat (to UK) extant native yes
Morocco extant native yes
Mozambique extant native yes
Namibia extant native yes
New Zealand extant native yes
Oman extant vagrant yes
Palau extant uncertain yes
Panama extant native yes
Peru extant native yes
Portugal extant vagrant yes
Senegal extant native yes
Seychelles extant native yes
Somalia extant vagrant yes
South Africa extant native yes
South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands extant native yes
Sri Lanka extant vagrant yes
St Kitts and Nevis extant native yes
St Lucia extant native yes
St Pierre and Miquelon (to France) extant native yes
St Vincent and the Grenadines extant native yes
Suriname extant native yes
Trinidad and Tobago extant native yes
USA extant native yes
Virgin Islands (to UK) extant uncertain yes
Virgin Islands (to USA) extant uncertain yes
Yemen extant vagrant yes

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA)
Country/Territory IBA Name
Antarctica Ryder Bay Islands
Antarctica Avian Island
Antarctica Litchfield Island
Antarctica Half Moon Island
Antarctica Potter Peninsula, King George Island
Antarctica Point Hennequin, King George Island
Antarctica Cierva Point and offshore islands
Antarctica Lagotellerie Island
Antarctica Svarthamaren
Antarctica Hop Island, Rauer Islands
Antarctica Haswell Island
Antarctica Cape Adare
Antarctica Possession Island
Antarctica Edmonson Point
Antarctica Cape Washington
Antarctica Inexpressible Island
Antarctica Depot Island
Antarctica Gregory Island
Antarctica Dunlop Island
Antarctica Blue Glacier to Cape Chocolate
Antarctica Dailey Islands
Antarctica Rocky Point, Ross Island
Antarctica McDonald Beach, Cape Bird
Antarctica Caughley Beach, Cape Bird
Antarctica Cape Crozier, Ross Island
Antarctica Beaufort Island
Antarctica Franklin Island southwest

Habitats & altitude
Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Marine Coastal/Supratidal Sea Cliffs and Rocky Offshore Islands major breeding
Marine Intertidal Rocky Shoreline major breeding
Marine Intertidal Tidepools major breeding
Marine Neritic Macroalgal/Kelp suitable resident
Marine Neritic Pelagic major resident
Marine Neritic Seagrass (Submerged) suitable resident
Marine Neritic Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel suitable resident
Marine Neritic Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs suitable resident
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy suitable resident
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy-Mud suitable resident
Marine Oceanic Epipelagic (0-200m) suitable non-breeding
Marine Oceanic Mesopelagic (200-1000m) suitable non-breeding
Rocky areas (eg. inland cliffs, mountain peaks) suitable breeding
Altitude   Occasional altitudinal limits  

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Catharacta maccormicki. Downloaded from on 22/09/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 22/09/2023.