Long-Tailed Jaeger

Stercorarius longicaudus
Range Map

There are seven members of the genus Stercorarius globally, three of which spend time regularly in North America; the Pomarine Jaeger (Stercorarius pomarinus), the Parasitic Jaeger (Stercorarius parasiticus) and this bird, the Long-Tailed Jaeger. These birds are not really gulls, but in my opinion, they are close enough relatives to be placed in this set. Jaegers (or skuas) are known as pirates who bully other sea birds into surrendering their catches mid flight. The Long-Tailed Jaeger is the smallest of this trio, and said to be the most graceful, or skilled flyer.

I can only presume these birds love long days and short nights, for they stay at the highest latitudes in the northern hemispheric summer, where the sun never sets at the solstice, and when the breeding season has drawn to a close, they fly 11,000 miles south to Antarctic waters, and live a pelagic lifestyle and stay through the longest days there, until it is time to fly north again and repeat the cycle.

Taxonomists recognise two subspecies of Long-Tailed Jaeger:

  • S. l. longicaudus breeds in the Arctic and subarctic uplands of Scandinavia and Russia east to the River Lena.
  • S. l. pallescens breeds in northeastern Siberia, Arctic Alaska, northern Canada and Greenland.

My only meeting with this species was a distant flyover in the northern Yukon in 2005.

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