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Parasitic Jaeger, Christian Artuso
Photo © Christian Artuso

Photo: Christian Artuso
Breeding evidence - Parasitic Jaeger
Breeding evidence
Probability of observation - Parasitic Jaeger
Probability of observation

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Parasitic Jaeger
Stercorarius parasiticus
Landscape associations:

Click on plot to view table of mean abundance
Conserv. status:
SRANK: Uncommon Breeder (S3B)
Number of squares
ConfirmedProbablePossiblePoint counts
2 14 49 62
Long-term BBS trends
RegionYearsTrend (conf. interv.) Reliab.
BBS trends are not available for this species

Mean abundance (number of birds detected per 5 min. point count) and percentage of squares occupied by region

Bird Conservation Regions [abund. plot] [%squares plot]
Arctic Plains and MountainsBoreal Hardwood TransitionBoreal Softwood Shield
0.0653% 0.00% 0.00%
Boreal Taiga PlainsPrairie PotholesTaiga Shield and Hudson Plains
0.00% 0.00% 0.1610%

Characteristics and Range Famed for the aerial agility with which it steals food from other seabirds, the Parasitic Jaeger breeds across the Arctic, including the subarctic Hudson Bay Lowlands. It is rarely seen in southern Manitoba, except for occasional stray migrants on their way to their wintering range, which spreads from coastal North America and the Caribbean to South America waters (Taylor 1993, Wiley and Lee 1999).

Distribution, Abundance, and Habitat Similar to the range depicted in The Birds of Manitoba, 94% of the 65 squares with breeding evidence of Parasitic Jaeger were within 75 km of the Hudson Bay coast. Nonetheless, possible and probable breeding evidence occurred in three squares at Nejanilini Lake (~160 km inland) and there was a single record at Nueltin Lake (~280 km inland at the Nunavut border), despite the species being absent in other well-surveyed northern squares. It therefore remains unclear if the Parasitic Jaeger breeds in a continuous band across the Nunavut land border or if there are disjunct breeding sites by some large inland lakes, as predicted by the probability-of-observation analysis.

In the Hudson Bay Lowlands, the Parasitic Jaeger usually nests atop dry hummocks in wet tundra (The Birds of Manitoba). Unlike the Long-tailed Jaeger, which prefers rocky, dry, raised substrate to nest, the Parasitic Jaeger prefers low-lying wet tundra or drier tussock-heath tundra near a lake, a river, or along the coast (Wiley and Lee 1999).  In general, it reaches its highest breeding densities in coastal areas where there are no nesting Long-tailed or Pomarine Jaegers (Wiley and Lee 1999).  In Manitoba, the mean abundance of the Parasitic Jaeger was lower in the Arctic Plains & Mountains than in the coastal portion of the Taiga Shield & Hudson Plains, despite evidence of higher breeding densities in the former in other parts of the Canadian Arctic (Wiley and Lee 1999).

Trends, Conservation, and Recommendations Although generally considered stable, a small declining trend was estimated for June observations of Parasitic Jaegers in Wapusk National Park from 1980 to 1996 (Rockwell et al. 2009). Climate change may result in a drying of the tundra and ponds (Harlan et al. 2015, van der Kamp and Marsh 2013) and a consequent potential loss of breeding habitat for this species.

Pierre Richard

Recommended citation: Richard, P. 2018. Parasitic Jaeger in Artuso, C., A. R. Couturier, K. D. De Smet, R. F. Koes, D. Lepage, J. McCracken, R. D. Mooi, and P. Taylor (eds.). The Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Manitoba, 2010-2014. Bird Studies Canada. Winnipeg, Manitoba [22 May 2024]

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Banner photo: Christian Artuso