Animals -> Birds -> Shorebirds -> Jaegers


Long-tailed Jaegers are reported to have been eaten by the Hare (Sahtu) [1] and Inuvialuit [2]. Red Earth Cree were also reported to have eaten jaegers [3], but this was likely uncommon given jaegers rarely occur far inland. Long-tailed Jaeger is reported to have been available to Arctic cultures during the spring migration [4], and in spring and early summer Inuit are reported to have hunted jaeger. The Long-tailed Jaeger, Parasitic Jaeger, and Pomarine Jaeger were eaten by Wainwright Inupiat. Hunters would attract flocks of jaegers by imitating their calls. The birds were also lured by bait thrown into the water. Men hunted these birds in emergencies because they are large, unafraid of humans and easily lured. Hunters used baited hooks attached to lines for pulling in the catch. Aside from emergency food, however, Inuit rarely ate jaegers. These birds were generally disliked and were more often killed because they steal food [5]. Jaeger eggs were collected in the North close to the water’s edge; the nests usually contained only one egg each [4].


1.         Hara HS: The Hare Indians and Their World. In. Ottawa: National Museums of Canada; 1980: 95-147.

2.         Friesen TM, Arnold CD: Zooarchaeology of a focal resource: Dietary importance of Beluga Whales to the Precontact Mackenzie Inuit. Arctic 1995, 48(1):22-30.

3.         Meyer D: Appendix I: Plants, Animals and Climate; Appendix IV: Subsistence-Settlement Patterns. In: The Red Earth Crees, 1860-1960. Volume 1st edition, edn.: National Musem of Man Mercury Series; 1985: 175-185-200-223.

4.         Russel F: Explorations in the Far North. In: Explorations in the Far North. edn. Iowa: University of Iowa; 1898.

5.         Nelson RK: Hunters of The Northern Ice. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press; 1969.

Jaegers are shorebirds that were previously placed in the same family as gulls and terns, but are now classified into their own family with other members of the same genus, like skuas. In North America, species of jaegers include the Long-tailed Jaeger (Stercorarius longicaudus) [1], the Parasitic Jaeger (Stercorarius parasiticus) [2], and the Pomarine Jaeger (Stercorarius pomarinus) [3]. They all breed in northern North America, mostly in the Arctic tundra, and migrate long distances south to reach their wintering range. The Long-tailed Jaeger is the smallest, weighing between 280 and 310 g, while the Pomarine Jaeger is the largest, weighing around 700 g with a wingspan around 1 m. Adult jaegers have long pointed wings, two very long central tail feathers, a dark helmet, a dark hooked bill, a whitish collar, and a dark brown plumage, except in light coloured morphs with whitish underparts and sides. They are very aggressive birds, that feed mainly on lemmings, voles, birds, and bird eggs, but also steal food from other birds [1-3]. 


1.         Wiley RH, Lee DS: Long-tailed Jaeger (Stercorarius longicaudus). In: The Birds of North America Online. Edited by Poole A. Ithaca: Cornell Lab Ornithology; 1998.

2.         Wiley RH, Lee DS: Parasitic Jaeger (Stercorarius parasiticus). In: The Birds of North America Online. Edited by Poole A. Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; 1999.

3.         Wiley RH, Lee DS: Pomarine Jaeger (Stercorarius pomarinus). In: The Birds of North America Online. Edited by Poole A. Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; 2000.


Distribution maps provided below, unless otherwise stated, were obtained from Birds of North America Online, maintained by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and all pictures provided below were obtained from Encyclopedia of Life
Long-tailed Jaeger
© Michele Solmi
Supplier: Flickr: EOL Images
Photographer: Michele Solmi
Parasitic Jaeger
© Mark Rosenstein
Creator: Mark Rosenstein
Pomarine Jaeger
© Don Loarie
Publisher: Flickr
Creator: Don Loarie