Parasitic JaegerStercorarius parasiticus

adult, light morph, breeding
Arthur Morris/VIREO
juvenile, light morph
Herbert Clarke/VIREO
adult, light morph, breeding
Bill Schmoker/VIREO
adult, dark morph
Arthur Morris/VIREO
adult, intermediate morph
Glenn Bartley/VIREO
adult, light morph, breeding
Arthur Morris/VIREO
Parasitic Jaeger


21" (53 cm). A fast-flying, gull-like seabird. Typical adults are brown above, white or light dusky below, with an incomplete gray-brown band across the breast; a dark, almost black, crown; and short (up to 3-4") pointed central tail feathers. Dark-phase birds are uniform dusky brown with a darker cap; intermediates between the two color phases occur. Often seen harrying gulls and terns.


Usually silent; a variety of mewing and wailing notes on breeding grounds.


various calls


Breeds on grassy tundra and stony ground near inland lakes; at other times on the ocean.


Breeds in Alaska and northern Canada. Winters in warm waters in Southern Hemisphere. Also in northern Eurasia.


This is the most familiar of our jaegers since it comes more readily into bays and estuaries and often feeds closer to shore. Like the other jaegers, it usually obtains food by pursuing gulls and terns and forcing them to drop food.


2 olive-brown eggs, with darker brown spots, in a grass-lined depression on the 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.


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").

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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