Long-tailed JaegerStercorarius longicaudus

Hanne & Jens Eriksen/VIREO
Arthur Morris/VIREO
Glen Tepke/VIREO
Long-tailed Jaeger


21" (53 cm). Adult similar to light-phase Parasitic Jaeger but smaller, more graceful, and with very long central tail feathers (up to 6"). Upperparts paler than in other jaegers, and blackish cap smaller and more sharply defined. Flight more buoyant.


A harsh kreeah; other yelping and rattling notes on breeding grounds.


alarm calls


Breeds on tundra and stony hillsides; at other times ranges over open ocean.


Breeds in Alaska and Canada north of Arctic Circle; winters far offshore in both Atlantic and Pacific oceans.


Smallest of the three jaegers, the Long-tailed is rarely seen, presumably because it migrates chiefly in mid-ocean. Although occasionally, like other jaegers, it harries terns and gulls, it feeds mainly by catching its own fish, taking flying insects in the air, and sometimes preying on small birds. On the breeding grounds lemmings are its staple food.


2 olive-brown eggs, with brown spots, in a grass-lined nest placed either on bare ground or among rocks.

Similar Species

adult, breeding

Heermann's Gull

18-21" (46-53 cm). Predominantly dark. Bill red; snow-white head blends into gray on neck, back, and rump; slate-black wings and tail, with white terminal band on tail and secondaries.

adult, light morph, breeding

Parasitic Jaeger

21" (53 cm). A fast-flying, gull-like seabird.

adult, breeding, light morph

Pomarine Jaeger

22" (56 cm). Larger and stockier than the Parasitic Jaeger, with a more extensive white flash on outer wing.


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