Return to Main Page   Dakota Birder Blog    

Pomarine Jaeger

Stercorarius pomarinus

Length: 22 inches Wingspan: 45 inches Seasonality: Rare Migrant
ID Keys: 2 central tail feathers extend well past other tail feathers, heavy billed, black head, body plumage often quite variable.

Pomarine Jaeger - Stercorarius pomarinusA bird of the Arctic tundra and open ocean, seen only rarely inland and very rarely in South Dakota. Adult birds are readily identifiable by the two blunt central tail feathers that extend well past the rest of the tail.    Pomarine Jaegers are predatory birds, feeding heavily on lemming populations in their northern haunts, while feeding primarily on fish during the non-breeding season on the open ocean.

Habitat: Spends summer breeding season on Arctic tundra.  Spends winters over open ocean, usually staying off-shore, and very rarely found inland. 

Diet: Feeds very heavily on lemmings on its breeding grounds.  Breeding success often is dependent on lemming populations.  At sea, primarily eats fish.  Will also eat birds, eggs, insects, carrion, and refuse.

Behavior: On the summer breeding grounds, feeds by flying slowly and hovering over the landscape, swooping down to capture prey when spotted.  At sea, feeds by dipping down to the ocean's surface while in flight.  They are also agile and strong fliers, capable of catching small birds in flight.

Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota

Song: Generally silent except on Arctic breeding grounds.

Migration: Summers in the high Arctic. Winters off U.S. coasts as well as elsewhere in the world.  The Pomarine Jaeger is very rare inland, but could be seen in nearly any season.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Pomarine Jaeger sightings

Similar Species: Parasitic Jaeger, South Polar Skua, Long-Tailed Jaeger

Conservation Status: Populations appear to be stable overall.  However, large local population fluxes often occur in conjunction with availability of primary summer prey species, the lemming.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Pomarine Jaeger

2) BirdWeb - Pomarine Jaeger

3) Audubon Guide - Pomarine Jaeger

Photo Information: Photo taken June 23rd, 2007, off the coast of North Carolina -- Copyright, Patrick Coin


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Pomarine Jaeger - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Rare visitor, with only a handful of records in the state.

Additional Pomarine Jaeger Photos (coming soon!)