Blogger: Campaign Manager for the Skua, Tom Hunt
“Tough to love, and impossible to forget,’’ is how bird enthusiast Scott Weidensaul describes the skua.
I am not backing the skua in this poll because I particularly like them – after all, who could?
They are nasty and ugly creatures.
From making smaller birds regurgitate prey, to haranging young penguins to death, or killing their siblings for no apparent reason, from putrid birth to death, the skua is horrible rogue.
Fierce and predatory, skua have truly earned the nickname “raptor of the South”. Five species are found in the New Zealand region.
In his book Living on the Wind, Weidensaul describes skuas as a “rather nondescript creature”.
But what skua lack in looks and charm, they make up for in awesome achievements.
In 1975, a banded skua flew 9300 miles from the Antarctic Peninsula to Greenland – the longest known flight by an individual bird.
The South Polar skua is recognised as the world’s most southern bird, with sightings recorded in the inhospitable South Pole.
Weidensaul was among a group who plunged deep into the Pacific Ocean on a boat through “bone-chilling cold and acute sea-sickness’’.
For many aboard, he says, seeing skua was the ultimate goal. One cannot imagine Weidensaul counted himself among that number. Just a matter of paragraphs in his 373-page book was devoted to skuas – a mere afterthought among the albatross, the hawks, the ducks.
Who were the others on board? Were these the same 14 people who in last year’s bird of the year contest voted for the skua? What did they know? Or, more to the point, what did the other 11,000-plus voters miss?
Let’s make 2010 the year of the skua, or at least the year it doesn’t lose.
To vote for the Skua go here – http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/poll