Four against one

Pomarine Skuas chasing a Kittiwake
Pomarine Skuas chasing a Kittiwake

Sometimes nature isn’t fair. Or actually, it never is. Weaker animals die to serve as food for others. And if those others can outnumber the weak, they can even get bigger prey. Looking at this from a human perspective we often feel sorry for the weak or the hunted, but nature never feels sorry.

Skuas often get their food by kleptoparasitism. They chase other birds like Kittiwakes or Black Guillemots and force them to throw up their last meal, which in turn they will eat. In Spitsbergen the Arctic Skua is the most common skua. The other species, both Long-tailed and Pomarine Skua feed mainly on lemming, but  as there are no lemming on Spitsbergen they also turned to kleptoparasitism. These four Pomarines are chasing one Kittiwake. Do I feel sorry for the Kittiwake? Well, maybe a little, though he’ll live and will just have to catch another fish. But if the skuas wouldn’t get anything to eat, they would die as well… That’s nature…

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