Family Gannets, Boobies (Sulidae)

Least Concern

Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster)


French: Fou brun German: Weißbauchtölpel Spanish: Piquero pardo

Pelecanus Leucogaster


, 1783,



Known to have hybridized with S. dactylatra, juvenile of which closely resembles present species. Has been suggested that form brewsteri may be a separate species (with etesiaca as a race)#R#R. Birds breeding on Clipperton I and in Tres Marías Is (off W Mexico) sometimes recognized as race nesiotes, but considered inseparable from brewsteri; rogersi (from Western Australia) synonymized with plotus. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. l. leucogaster (Boddaert, 1783) – islands in S Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean and tropical Atlantic Ocean.
  • S. l. plotus (J. R. Forster, 1844) – Red Sea and tropical Indian Ocean (mainly W part) E to N Australia and C Pacific Ocean.
  • S. l. brewsteri Goss, 1888 – extreme E tropical Pacific (at least Gulf of California islands, also Tres Marías Is and Clipperton I, possibly also some others).
  • S. l. etesiaca Thayer & Bangs, 1905 – humid regions of Pacific Central America and NW South America (S to S Colombia).
  • Descriptive notes

    64–74 cm; 724–1550 g; wingspan 132–150 cm. Dark-hooded booby with all-dark upperparts. Nominate race has blackish-brown head and neck to uppermost breast,... read more


    Male emits low hissing calls, becoming stronger “chuff chuff” when excited or... read more


    Strictly marine. Feeds mostly in inshore waters. Not commonly seen sitting on water. Breeds on bare... read more

    Food and feeding

    Described as taking mostly flying-fish (of genera Exocoetus, Cypselurus) and squid but several studies suggest that... read more


    Seasonal in some areas: for example, on N Great Barrier Reef, Australia, breeding recorded Oct–Dec and Mar–Jul, but it is... read more


    Adults tend to stay more or less permanently around colony. Young and non-breeders disperse widely... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Possibly most widespread species in family, but population often fragmented, scattered and thus difficult to estimate total numbers;... read more

    Recommended citation

    Carboneras, C., Christie, D.A., Jutglar, F., Garcia, E.F.J. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 8 April 2020).