Monday, 14 February 2011

Peruvian booby

Sula variegata

Photo by Alejandro Tabini (Birding Peru)

Common name:

Order Pelecaniformes
Family Sulidae

The Peruvian booby is found in the area of the Humboldt Current, breeding from Punta Pariñas , in northern Peru, to Concepción, in central Chile. Non-breeders can be found as far as south-west Ecuador.

The Peruvian booby is 71-76 cm long

This strictly marine species feeds close to the coast in cool, rich waters of upwellings where food is abundant. They breed in bare, arid islets along rocky coasts, mostly on cliff ledges in Chile, but preferring open, flat ground in Peru.

This fish eater feeds almost exclusively on the abundant supplies of anchoveta (Engraulis ringens) found in their range, but will switch to other fish species, including sardine (Sardinops), mackerel (Scomber), and other fish, when stocks collapse. Feeding mostly occurs by plunge-diving from moderate height.


Peruvian Boobies breed throughout the year, but the main breeding season takes place during the austral spring and summer, in September-March. They nest on the ground, in a bowl made of guano where the female lays 1-4 pale blue eggs. The eggs are incubated by both adults for 4-5 weeks and the chick rearing period lasts about 3 months. Most pairs may attempt to breed for a second time during the year depending on food availability.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
With a global population estimated at 1,2 million and a large breeding range, this species is not considered threatened at present. Still, the population is suspected to be fluctuating owing to fluctuations in prey populations, and El Niño events may cause dramatic mortality events in some years.

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