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Peruvian Booby
Sula variegata

Suliformes Order – Sulidae Family

Length: 71-76 cm

The Peruvian Booby is endemic of Peruvian coasts and Humboldt Current. This species plays and important role in exploitation of guano.

The adult has pure white head, neck and entire underparts, whereas wings, back and rump are brown mottled white. Wing-coverts are brown with pale tips, making scaled pattern. Flight feathers are dark brown. Tail is brown too, but with white central rectrices.
The stout bill is blue-grey. The eyes are deep chestnut surrounded by bare grey eyering. Legs and webbed feet are grey.
Both sexes are similar, but female is slightly larger than male.

Fr: Fou varié
All : Guanotölpel
Esp : Piquero Peruano
Ital : Sula peruviana
Nd: Humboldtgent
Sd: Perusula


Jean Michel Fenerole
Photos d’Oiseaux du monde

Patrick Ingremeau

Text by Nicole Bouglouan


HANDBOOK OF THE BIRDS OF THE WORLD vol 1 by Josep del Hoyo-Andrew Elliot-Jordi Sargatal - Lynx Edicions - ISBN: 8487334105

A GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF COLOMBIA by Steven L. Hilty and William L. Brown - Princeton University Press – ISBN 069108372X

Avibase (Lepage Denis)

BirdLife International (BirdLife International)

Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia


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The chick is covered with white down.
The juvenile has speckled brown head and underparts, and duller bare parts.
The immature resembles adult but the white areas are mottled or tinged buffy.

The Peruvian Booby produces different calls, but the male utters mainly plaintive whistles whereas the female produces resonant trumpeting quacks and honks.
The young male needs several years to acquire the typical adult voice.

The Peruvian Booby is strictly marine. It frequents both coastal and offshore waters. It breeds on bare, arid islets along the rocky coasts or on cliff ledges according to the location.

The Peruvian Booby occurs on the West coast of South America. It breeds from N Peru to C Chile. Non-breeders birds may disperse as far as SW Ecuador.

The Peruvian Booby feeds primarily on anchoveta (Engraulis ringens), but after the crash of stocks of this fish in 1971 caused by El Niño, and with addition of overfishing, this booby feeds now on sardine (Sardinops sagax) and takes some mackerel (Scomber japonicus) and other fish species.
As other Sulidae species, it feeds by plunge-diving but from moderate height. This species is usually found in groups of 30-40 birds or more.

The Peruvian Booby is very gregarious, probably the most gregarious of this family. It breeds in huge colonies.
Displays differ from that of gannets. Boobies use wings and webbed feet during displays. But “sky-pointing” is one of the most used by these birds. It has numerous functions and is often used to strengthen the pair-bonds and in appeasement.

The Peruvian Booby is sedentary in its range, but occurrence of El Niño involves large desertion of the area N to Colombia or further S in Chile.

The Peruvian Booby is highly aerial and flies strongly with great agility at all times, especially while diving.

The breeding season occurs between September and February in Peru, and the laying occurs in January/February in Chile.
The Peruvian Booby nests on bare arid islets along the rocky coasts and on cliff ledges in Chile. In Peru, the nest is on the ground. It breeds in huge colonies.
The nest is made with seaweeds forming a loose pile, cemented with excreta. But the laying can be on the bare ground too.

The female lays 1-4 eggs. Incubation lasts 42 days. Boobies lack brood patches and keep the eggs warm with their large webbed feet. Both sexes incubate. At hatching, the chicks have white down. They are fed by both parent, and fledge between 78 and 105 days after hatching.

The Peruvian Booby feeds primarily on anchoveta, but also takes sardine and mackerel according to the food resources.

The populations of Peruvian Boobies appear reduced during guano exploitation, and are disturbed by egg-collecting too.
In addition, this species is always threatened by El Niño.
It is legally protected throughout the range, but colonies are still exploited for guano.
However, this species is not currently threatened.