Boreal Birds
300+ species, billions of birds rely on Canada's boreal forest as critical breeding grounds
© Tim Bowman, USFWS

Long-tailed Jaeger

Long-tailed Jaeger
Stercorarius longicaudus
Gull-like Birds | Family: Gulls and Terns, Laridae

An estimated 20% of the species' North American breeding range lies within the Boreal Forest.

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Overview

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.

Description

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.

Voice

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

Nesting

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

Habitat

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

Range/Migration

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