Skuas (and jaegers) are a fascinating and popular group of seabirds that make up a subfamily of just seven species. They can be divided into two main groups: the larger species of Catharacta skuas which are mainly found in the southern hemisphere (with Great Skua breeding in the north), and the three Stercorarius species (also known as jaegers) which breed in the northern hemisphere. Both northern and southern skuas breed at high latitudes and several species are long-distance migrants, performing spectacular migrations through most of the world's oceans, sometimes even flying overland.
The individual plumage variation in some species is enormous, creating one of the most puzzling yet fascinating challenges in modern field identification. This is the first complete identification guide to the skuas of the world. It is designed to enable species identification and correct ageing, and the information presented is based on years of study in the field, detailed
examination of photographs and museum skins, and extensive research of the relevant literature.
The comprehensive text is accompanied by twelve exquisite colour plates by Hans Larsson, illustrating a wide range of plumages. In addition, there are eight pages of colour photographs and numerous black and white photographs and drawings that show key identification features. With this book, the seabird enthusiast should at last be able to identify almost every skua encountered, whether on a seawatch or at sea.
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Klaus Malling Olsen is one of Denmark's fore- most ornithologists. He is a widely travelled field birder and tour leader with a particular interest in seabirds. He has written numerous papers on field identification and is the author of Terns of Europe and North America (1995), which was also illustrated by Hans Larsson, and of a guide to the northern skuas that was translated into Swedish (1988) and Dutch (1992). He compiled the official Danish list, Danmarks Fugle - en oversigt (1992) and contributed to Where to Watch Birds in Scandinavia (1996). He is currently serving his second term as a member of the Danish Rarities Committee.
Hans Larsson was born in The Gambia but lives in Sweden. Although only twenty years old he is an artist of considerable ability. His work was published in Terns of Europe and North America (1995), and he was voted Bird Artist of the Year 1994 by Vår Fågelvärld, the leading Swedish ornithological journal. In 1996 the Swedish Ornithological Union honoured him as their Birder of the Year, and he is a member of his local Rarities and Records Committee in Scania, southern Sweden.
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