Parasitic Jaeger (Stercorarius parasiticus)

Of the three jaegers, this species is most often a pirate, stealing food from other birds- hence its common name, the parasitic jaeger. It is also sometimes known as the Arctic jaeger.

Description

This species has two colour phases, a dark phase in which the body is dark brown all over and a light phase where the belly turns white while the back remains brown. The further north the bird lives, the more the white portion of its plumage increases in proportion to the brown, so that northern birds tend to be white and southern ones brown.

Distribution

The parasitic jaeger has the widest distribution of all jaegers. In Canada, its range during the breeding season spans from the High Arctic to the coasts of Hudson Bay. It winters in the southern hemisphere in ocean areas that are rich in fish.

Ecology

These birds nest in colonies, with pairs usually returning to the same territories each year. The incubation period lasts four weeks, during which time the off-duty parent can often be seen flying around, “playing” with the other birds.