Jim Williams has been watching birds and writing about their antics since before "Gilligan's Island" went into reruns. Join him for his unique insights, his everyday adventures and an open conversation about the birds in your back yard and beyond.

Antarctic predator hunting in Oklahoma

Posted by: Jim Williams under Bird identification, Bird sightings Updated: August 9, 2013 - 10:44 AM

 A large, tough oceanic predator from the Antarctic, related to the gull family, is raising hell in Oklahoma. A South Polar Skua has been reported in Oklahoma City. It’s been photographed attacking Cattle Egrets and Yellow-crowned Night-herons, knocking them out of the air for lunch. This apparently is the fourth or fifth inland record for the U.S., including one some time ago in North Dakota. Skuas are similar to jaegers, both members of a gull subfamily. The three species of jaegers are smaller predators seen annually on Lake Superior at Duluth. Jonathan Alderfer, in his book “National Geographic’s Complete Birds of North America," says skuas are “strongly pelagic, extremely unlikely to be seen from shore” much less in Oklahoma. They are occasionally seen off both our eastern and western coasts, Pacific sightings more common. The South Polar Skua (below) I photographed in 2009 was seen during a pelagic trip out of Monterey, California. You can find photos of the bird attacking an egret and a night-heron at http://www.pbase.com/joe_grzybowski/image/151728228 and http://www.tulsaaudubon.org/membersgallery/okc-skua.htm

 

 

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