Piquero Patirrojo/Red-footed Booby/Sula sula

Nombre en español: Piquero Patirrojo

Nombre en ingles: Red-footed Booby

Nombre científico: Sula sula

Familia: Sulidae

Foto: Francisco Piedrahita

Canto: Oscar Campbell

El piquero patirrojo (Sula sula)2​ es una especie de ave suliforme de la familia Sulidae que habita en los océanos tropicales.


El piquero patirrojo es el más pequeño de su género, con unos 70 cm de longitud y una envergadura alar de hasta un metro. Tiene las patas rojas y el pico azul o azul y rosado, que suele estar enmarcado por la garganta negra. Su lorum desnudo está cubierto por una carúncula azul como el pico. Esta especie es polimórfica respecto al color del plumaje. En el morfo blanco la mayor parte del plumaje es blanco (con la cabeza amarillenta) y las plumas de vuelo negras. El morfo colinegro es similar pero con la cola negra, por lo que puede confundirse con el piquero de Nazca y el piquero enmascarado. El morfo pardo tiene prácticamente todo el plumaje pardo. El morfo pardo con cola blanca es similar pero con el vientre, el obispillo y la cola blancos. El morfo pardo con cabeza y cola blancas, tiene la mayor parte de su cuerpo, la cabeza y cola blancos, con las alas y la espalda pardas. Los distintos morfos crían unos con otros, pero en la mayoría de las regiones predominan uno o dos morfos, por ejemplo en las islas Galápagos, la mayoría de los piqueros patirrojos pertenecen al morfo pardo, aunque también se encuentran individuos del morfo blanco.

Ambos sexos tienen un aspecto similar, pero los juveniles son parduzcos con las alas más ocuras, las patas rosadas claras, mientras que los polluelos están cubiertos de un denso plumón blanco.

Huevo de Sula sula – MHNT.


Se extiende por la franja tropical de los océanos Pacífico, Atlántico e Índico.3

Red-footed booby

The red-footed booby (Sula sula) is a large seabird of the booby family, Sulidae. As suggested by the name, adults always have red feet, but the colour of the plumage varies. They are powerful and agile fliers, but they are clumsy in takeoffs and landings. They are found widely in the tropics, and breed colonially in coastal regions, especially islands.


The first formal description of the red-footed booby was by the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus in 1766 in the twelfth edition of his Systema Naturae. He introduced the binomial name Pelecanus sula. The type locality is Barbados in the West Indies. The present genus Sula was introduced by the French scientist Mathurin Jacques Brisson in 1760.[4] The word Sula is Norwegian for a gannet.[

There are three subspecies:[

  • S. s. sula (Linnaeus, 1766) – Caribbean and southwest Atlantic islands
  • S. s. rubripes Gould, 1838 – tropical Pacific and Indian Oceans
  • S. s. websteri Rothschild, 1898 – eastern central Pacific


The red-footed booby is the smallest member of the booby and gannet family at about 70 cm (28 in) in length and with a wingspanof up to 1 m (3 ft 3 in). The average weight of 490 adults from Christmas Island was 837 g (1.845 lb).[7] It has red legs, and its billand throat pouch are coloured pink and blue. This species has several morphs. In the white morph the plumage is mostly white (the head often tinged yellowish) and the flight feathers are black. The black-tailed white morph is similar, but with a black tail, and can easily be confused with the Nazca and masked boobies. The brown morph is overall brown. The white-tailed brown morph is similar, but has a white belly, rump, and tail. The white-headed and white-tailed brown morph has a mostly white body, tail and head, and brown wings and back. The morphs commonly breed together, but in most regions one or two morphs predominates; e.g. at the Galápagos Islands, most belong to the brown morph, though the white morph also occurs.

The sexes are similar, and juveniles are brownish with darker wings, and pale pinkish legs, while chicks are covered in dense white down.

The species has been recorded three times from Sri Lanka.[

In September 2016, a male red-footed booby was inexplicably found washed up on a beach in East Sussex, UK, 5,000 miles from its nearest usual habitat. It was the first of its species ever recorded in the UK. The bird, later named Norman, was said by some to be exhausted and malnourished, though it flew onto the beach freely and was of normal weight when checked. He was brought back to health before being transported by plane to an environmental center in the Cayman Islands in December 2016, where it subsequently died before ever being released into the wild.[

In January 2017, a red-footed booby was sighted on the New Zealand mainland for the first time.[

A red-footed booby was observed to be preyed upon by a large coconut crab on the Chagos Archipelago in 2016.[


Egg, Collection Museum Wiesbaden

This species breeds on islands in most tropical oceans. When not breeding it spends most of the time at sea, and is therefore rarely seen away from breeding colonies. It nests in large colonies, laying one chalky blue egg in a stick nest, which is incubated by both adults for 44–46 days. The nest is usually placed in a tree or bush, but rarely it may nest on the ground. It may be three months before the young first fly, and five months before they make extensive flights.

Red-footed booby pairs may remain together over several seasons. They perform elaborate greeting rituals, including harsh squawks and the male’s display of his blue throat, also including short dances.


Red-footed boobies are spectacular divers, plunging into the ocean at high speeds to catch prey. They mainly eat small fish or squid which gather in groups near the surface.


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