Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Pomarine Jaeger - Stercorarius pomarinus
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General Comments The Pomarine Jaeger is the most familiar jaeger/skua seen offshore. It is seen on most pelagic trips in spring and fall, and occasionally it can be seen at other times of year. Some are seen from the coastline each year, migrating north or south low over the waves. As with a number of other pelagic species, its winter range is still not well defined; some reference books omit the offshore region of North Carolina from the winter range, whereas many others include it. At any rate, a few jaegers do occur off the coast in the middle of winter. There are a handful of records inland, both in the inner Coastal Plain and in the Piedmont. Note that identification of the three jaeger species can be quite difficult, especially as seen from shore, owing to long distances to the birds. Is is assumed that some records of Pomarine Jaegers from shore are really of the more numerous inshore-migrating Parasitic Jaeger.
Breeding Status Nonbreeder
NC BRC List Definitive
State Status
U.S. Status
State Rank SZ
Global Rank G5
Coastal Plain Transient, and sparse winter visitor/resident, offshore, and rarely along the coast. Often fairly common offshore in late spring, but mostly uncommon to occasionally fairly common in fall; uncommon in summer, and rare to very uncommon in winter. Uncommon as seen from shore, mainly in migration and early winter. Mostly early Apr to mid-Jun, peaking in late May; and throughout the fall, with no discernible peak period; scattered records in Jan and Feb. Essentially absent in the Tidewater zone, but there are three farther inland records, two from Wayne: 1 at Goldsboro on 18 Sep 1987, and 2 at Quaker Neck Lake on 22 Sep 1989 (after Hurricane Hugo). The third is of 3 seen at Lake Waccamaw on 13 Sep 1984 (after Hurricane Diana). Peak counts: 90, off Oregon Inlet, 25 Oct 1985; 78, off Oregon Inlet, 24 May 2002. From shore, peak count: 22, Cape Hatteras Point, 7 Jun 2022.
Piedmont Visitor to lakes and reservoirs, though a few records do not appear storm-related. Casual, with five records: up to 3 at Lake Townsend (Guilford) from 13 Jul - 6 Aug 1984; 1 at Jordan Lake on 9 Sep 1987; 1 at Moss Lake near Shelby on 23 Sep 1989 (after Hurricane Hugo); 1 at Falls Lake from 16-22 Nov 1997; and one photographed at Lake Norman (Mecklenburg) from 28 Jul - 4 Aug 2013.
Mountains No records.
Finding Tips This species is occasionally seen from shore along the coast, although it is less likely than the Parasitic Jaeger. To see one from shore, you must be prepared to spend at least an hour scoping the ocean, preferably during Oct, Nov, or May. Your best bet from shore is to stand at Cape Hatteras point during the latter half of May. Of course, your best chance to see one in the state is to take a pelagic trip. They are seen on most trips during the latter half of May, and during the fall, particularly in Sep and Oct.
Attribution LeGrand[2023-03-11], LeGrand[2022-12-22], LeGrand[2018-02-01]
NC Map
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