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Manakins (Pipridae)

Manakins

(Pipridae)

Class Aves

Order Passeriformes

Suborder Tyranni (Suboscines)

Family Tyrannidae


Thumbnail description
Small, stocky birds of Neotropical woodland and rainforest with short bills, short tails, and big eyes; males are marked with boldly patterned or exceptionally colorful plumage; females have dull, olive-brown plumage; the colorful males attract the drab females by performing elaborate displays, often on special display grounds called leks; the females alone build nests and raise the young; small fruits and some insects are plucked on the wing during sallying flight

Size
Length 3–5.9 in (7.5–15 cm); weight approximately 0.35–0.70 oz (10–20 g)

Number of genera, species
17 genera, 54 species

Habitat
Understory of subtropical woodlands to lush tropical rainforests

Conservation status
Critically Endangered: 1 species; Endangered: 1 species; Vulnerable: 2 species; Near Threatened: 1 species

Distribution
Neotropics from Mexico to Argentina, and the islands of Trinidad and Tobago

Evolution and systematics

No fossil manakins have been reported. Peters Checklist considers the manakins to be a distinct family (Pipridae) with 17 genera and about 54 species. Based upon DNA-DNA studies and other characteristics, many experts now consider the true manakins to be a subfamily (Piprinae) of the suboscine passerine family Tyrannidae (tyrant flycatchers). This sub-family is comprised of 11 genera and 41 species, including the genera Heterocercus, Chloropipo, Xenopipo, Chiroxiphia, Antilophia, Manacus, Ilicura, Corapipo, Masius, Machaeropterus, and Pipra. The following six genera, comprising 13 species, are no longer grouped with true manakins under this taxonomic system and will not be covered further in this discussion: Sapayoa, Schiffornis, Tyranneutes, Neopelma, Neopipo, and Piprites.

Physical characteristics

The manakins are beautiful, stocky little passerines, most less than 4.9 in (12.5 cm) long. They have short, somewhat broadened and very slightly curved bills; rounded, short wings, sometimes with feathers modified in the males to produce sound effects. The legs are short. They have three toes in front and one in back of the foot, but the front middle toe is fused at its base with one of the adjoining toes. The eyes are large. Sexes are different. Female and juvenile plumage is typically drab olive-green. Male coloration is stunning—basic black and olive wings are contrasted with patches of intense white, blue, red, or yellow on areas such as the crown, neck, and mantle. Juvenile males may go through several intermediate subadult molts before acquiring full adult male coloration.

Distribution

Neotropics from Mexico to Argentina, and the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. These fascinating perching birds are found only in the Neotropics. They are widely distributed in the understory of subtropical woodlands and tropical forests of Central and South America, and a few nearby islands. All manakins are resident, non-migratory species within their range.

Habitat

Understory of subtropical woodlands to lush tropical rain-forests.

Behavior

Birdwatchers, eco-tourists, and professional ornithologists alike find manakins to be among the most beautiful and enchanting of all the world's birds. The displays may include distinctive songs and calls, and mechanical sounds (such as "whirring" and "wing snapping" noises) made with modified flight feathers. The ritualized displays may be conducted at leks by a single male, or, in some species, multiple males (from 2–3) cooperate during courtship, with copulation usually going to the most dominant male of the duo or trio.

Feeding ecology and diet

Small, berry-sized fruits and insects are taken during quick, sallying flights. Some manakins seem to be particularly fond of fruits which are bluish or purplish in color. The bluish feces often contain seeds.

Reproductive biology

Manakins do not form a lasting pair-bond, but are polygamous, using a leh (courtship area) where females choose and mate with a male. After copulation, the females fly off alone to build the nests, incubate the eggs, and raise the young. The nest is constructed using woven fibers and grasses to form a tiny hammock in small trees or ferns usually over water. Incubation lasts from 17–21 days, with short fledging times of 13–15 days for one to two young.

Conservation status

According to IUCN, the newly discovered Araripe manakin (Antilophia bokermanni) is Critically Endangered due to its extremely small Brazilian range and population, coupled with pressure on its habitat due to development. The golden-crowned manakin (Lepidothrix (Pipra) vilasboasi) is Vulnerable on the basis of its very small range in Brazil. The yellow-headed manakin (Chloropipo flavicapilla), Wied's tyrant-manakin (Neopelma aurifrons), and the black-capped manakin (Piprites pileatus) are considered Near Threatened, Endangered, and

Vulnerable, respectively. No manakin is currently listed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Significance to humans

Manakins may be of indirect economic importance to countries which cater to birdwatchers and eco-tourists. Their images are popular on postage stamps of their range countries, as well as t-shirts and local artwork.

Species accounts

List of Species

Long-tailed manakin
Araripe manakin
Striped manakin
Red-capped manakin
Scarlet-horned manakin
Golden-headed manakin
Wire-tailed manakin

Long-tailed manakin

Chiroxiphia linearis

subfamily

Piprinae

taxonomy

Pipra linearis Bonaparte, 1838, Mexico = Santa Efigenia, Oaxaca.

other common names

French: Manakin fastueux; German: Langschwanzpipra; Spanish: Saltarín Toledo, Saltarín de Cola Larga.

physical characteristics

Sexes differ. Female's length is 5.5 in (14 cm), including 1 in (2.5 cm), elongated, central tail feathers. Male's length is 8.5–10.5 in (21.5–26.5 cm), including 3.9–5.9 in (10–15 cm), elongated, central tail feathers. Weight is 0.7 oz (19 g). The male is mostly black with an azure blue back, a red crown with a rear projecting crest, and long, central tail feathers. Females are olive-green. Distinctive orange legs and feet.

distribution

Southern Mexico to Costa Rica.

habitat

Open vine tangles and thick undergrowth of dry or humid forest, secondary forest and plantation borders, and borders of mangroves swamps.

behavior

Mercedes S. Foster conducted classic observations of the long-tailed manakin. In the advertising call, male pairs or trios synchronously repeat, "To-lay-do," from which their Spanish

name has been derived. In the Up-Down Dance, males alternately make fluttering jumps straight upward into the air. In the Cartwheel Dance, each male in turn flutters up and backward in a vertical circle to land on the spot previously occupied by his dance partner. As many as 100 jumps may be completed per cartwheel sequence. The dominant male, who gets all copulations, finally ends the cooperative display and dismisses his dance partner with a single piercing note pweet!.

feeding ecology and diet

Uses sallying flight to pluck small fruits from tropical, evergreen understory trees like Ardisia revoluta (Myrsinaceae), as well as from shade-intolerant secondary growth trees such as Cecropia peltata.

reproductive biology

Following copulation, the female leaves to build the nest, incubate eggs, and raise the young on her own. The nest is a shallow cup of fibers, mosses, grasses, and dry leaves, attached by its rim and suspended from horizontal forks in small trees, approximately 27 ft (8 m) above the ground. The nest is not placed with any obvious connection to the lek. One, or usually two, buffy eggs with heavy brown spotting are laid. Fruit is included in the diet of the offspring.

conservation status

Not threatened. Common in its preferred habitat; abundant in some areas.

significance to humans

Eco-tourists and birdwatchers enjoy seeing the males.


Araripe manakin

Antilophia bokermanni

subfamily

Piprinae

taxonomy

Antilophia bokermanni Coelho and Silva, 1998, Brazil.

other common names

English: Araripe's soldier; French: Manakin de Araripe; German: Helmpipra; Spanish: Bailarín de Araripe.

physical characteristics

Sexes differ. Length is approximately 5.7 in (14.5 cm) in both sexes. The male is mostly white with a red upstanding frontal crest, crown, nape, and mid-back. The female is olive, with a visibly upstanding frontal crest.

distribution

Rare. Central Brazil, extremely limited range near Chapada do Araripe. Wet forest, altitude around 2,625 ft (800 m).

habitat

Wet forest at low elevations.

behavior

Unknown to date.

feeding ecology and diet

Probably takes small fruits and insects during quick, sallying flights as in other manakins.

reproductive biology

Unknown.

conservation status

This newly discovered (1998) species is categorized as Critically Endangered. Its known population and home range are both extremely small, and its habitat is under pressure from land developers.

significance to humans

None known.


Striped manakin

Machaeropterus regulus

subfamily

Piprinae

taxonomy

Machaeropterus regulus Hahn, 1819.

other common names

French: Manakin rubis; German: Streifenpipra; Spanish: Manaquin Franjeado.

physical characteristics

Sexes differ, but not as markedly as in other manakins. Length is 3.5–3.7 in (9–9.5 cm). The male is olive above with a shiny

red crown and nape, and the underparts are streaked reddish brown and white. The female is plain olive above with some reddish brown streaking below. In both sexes the iris is dark red, and the legs purplish flesh.

distribution

Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil.

habitat

Understory of the interior of humid forest.

behavior

Difficult to see, they travel alone or in pairs. Communal displays and noticeable lekking have not been recorded. Males have been recorded clinging to a horizontal perch with their feet, while hanging upside down and rocking to and fro while making buzzing sounds with their wings. Vocalizations are weak, hummingbird-like "chips."

feeding ecology and diet

Small fruits and insects are taken during quick, sallying flights.

reproductive biology

Unknown.

conservation status

Not threatened. Uncommon to fairly common in localized areas of humid forest.

significance to humans

None known.


Red-capped manakin

Pipra mentalis

subfamily

Piprinae

taxonomy

Pipra mentalis Sclater, 1857, Cordova = Córdoba, Vera Cruz, Mexico.

other common names

French: Manakin à cuisses jaunes; German: Gelbhosenpipra; Spanish: Saltarín de Capa Roja.

physical characteristics

Sexes differ. Length is 3.9 in (10 cm). Males are velvety black except for bright yellow thighs and pale yellow underwing coverts, with a distinctive bright scarlet head. The shafts of the flight feathers are thickened, and both thickened and curved in the secondary feathers. The female is dull olive above. Males have white eyes, females have brown eyes. The legs are dull brown.

distribution

Western Colombia and western Ecuador.

habitat

Lower and middle understory of humid and wet forest.

behavior

Lekking males gather in loose groups in low to middle forest understory. The modified shafts of the rectrices and secondaries produce mechanical wing snaps, and wing whirring and rustling buzzes.

feeding ecology and diet

Small fruits and insects are taken during quick, sallying flights.

reproductive biology

The female alone makes a shallow cup-shaped nest attached to a horizontal branch fork from 5–10 ft (1.5–3 m) above the forest floor. The clutch consists of two grayish buff eggs, with a wreath of mottled brown around the large end.

conservation status

Not threatened. Common in its preferred habitat.

significance to humans

Eco-tourists and birdwatchers enjoy seeing the males. Its image has been used on postage stamps.


Scarlet-horned manakin

Pipra cornuta

subfamily

Piprinae

taxonomy

Pipra cornuta Spix, 1825, Brazil.

other common names

French: Manakin à cornes rouges; German: Schopfpipra; Spanish: Saltarín Encopetado.

physical characteristics

Sexes differ. Length is 4.6 in (11.7 cm). The male is mostly glossy blue-black. The whole head is brilliant scarlet, including a long bilobed crest on the hindcrown projecting back and

slightly upward; the thighs are scarlet. The female is dull olive. Bills are pale flesh color in both sexes.

distribution

Venezuela (tepuis), Guyana, and possibly extreme north Brazil.

habitat

Low and middle understory of humid forest and mature secondary woodland.

behavior

Curious and confiding. Males display in traditional leks, vocalizing as they fly between perches, and making some mechanical whirring sounds with their wings.

feeding ecology and diet

Small fruits and insects are taken during quick, sallying flights.

reproductive biology

Unknown.

conservation status

Not threatened. Uncommon to locally fairly common in preferred habitat.

significance to humans

None known.


Golden-headed manakin

Pipra erythrocephala

subfamily

Piprinae

taxonomy

Pipra erythrocephala Linnaeus, 1758.

other common names

French: Manakin à tête d'or; German: Goldkopfpipra; Spanish: Saltarín Cabecidorado.

physical characteristics

Sexes differ. Length is 3.6 in (9.1 cm). The male is glossy black with a brilliant golden-yellow head; thighs are red and white. Adult males have white eyes. The female is dull olive with gray eyes. Bills are yellowish white and legs are pale or flesh-toned in both sexes.

distribution

Eastern Panama southward to northeast Peru, Brazil north of the Amazon, the Guianas, and quite numerous on Trinidad.

habitat

Upper understory and middle growth of both humid and relatively deciduous forest and mature secondary woodland.

behavior

Lek displays are noisy and conspicuous. Pairs of males often seem to be competing with each other. Established males may maintain their residency at the lek for up to eight years. In typical manakin fashion, the males reach a fevered pitch of display when a female approaches, and in full display expose their red and white thigh feathers.

feeding ecology and diet

Small fruits and insects are taken during quick, sallying flights. Feed at fruiting trees up to the height of the forest canopy.

reproductive biology

Following copulation, the female alone builds the nest, incubates the eggs, and raises the young. The nest is a thinly woven cup of fibers attached to a horizontal fork in branches located 3.3–33 feet (1–10 m) off the ground. The eggs, usually two, are pale greenish yellow with many brown streaks around the large end of the shell.

conservation status

Not threatened. Rather common in preferred habitats.

significance to humans

Eco-tourists and birdwatchers enjoy seeing the males.


Wire-tailed manakin

Pipra filicauda

subfamily

Piprinae

taxonomy

Pipra filicauda Spix, 1825, Brazil.

other common names

French: Manakin filifère; German: Fadenpipra; Spanish: Saltarín Cola De Hilo.

physical characteristics

Sexes differ. Length is 4.2 in (10.7 cm). The gaudy males are black above, with scarlet red crown, nape, and upper back, and intense golden yellow undersides, forehead and sides of head.

Both sexes have tail feather shafts that project like long (2 in/5 cm) wire filaments; slightly shorter in the female. Irises are milk white in both sexes.

distribution

Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Amazonian Brazil.

habitat

Near streams in secondary forest, gallery and seasonally flooded forest.

behavior

Males form widely scattered leks in forest 3.3–26 ft (1–8 m) above the forest floor. The courtship displays include swooping and slow butterfly-like short flights, lateral side-jumps, side-to-side twisting with head lowered, crouching and erecting their body feathers, and raising the tail. The wings make mechanical sounds. When a female approaches closely, the male brushes his raised tail filaments against her face and throat. According to Ridgely and Tudor, "This is believed to be the only instance among birds in which modified tail feathers are used primarily in a tactile, as opposed to a visual, manner."

feeding ecology and diet

Small fruits and insects are taken during quick, sallying flights.

reproductive biology

Following copulation, the female alone builds a cup nest in small trees besides streams to lay and incubate eggs and raise the young.

conservation status

Not threatened. Locally common in preferred habitats.

significance to humans

Eco-tourists and birdwatchers enjoy seeing the males.


Resources

Books

Bateman, G., ed. All The World's Animals: Songbirds. New York: Torstar Books Inc., 1985.

Dunning, J. S. South American Land Birds: A Photographic Guide to Identification. Newtown Square, PA: Harrowood Books, 1982.

Foster, M. S. "Chiroxiphia linearis (Saltanix Colilargo, Toledo, Long-tailed Manakin)." In Costa Rican Natural History, edited by D. H. Janzen. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983.

Hilton-Taylor, C., comp. 2000 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.: IUCN, 2000.

Hilty, S. L., and W. L. Brown. A Guide to the Birds of Colombia. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986.

Johnsgard, P. A. Arena Birds: Sexual Selection and Behavior. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1994.

Meyer de Schauensee, R., and W. H. Phelps. A Guide to the Birds of Venezuela. Newtown Square, PA: Harrowood Books, 1982.

Ridgley, Robert S., and G. Tudor. The Birds of South America. Vol. II: The Suboscine Passerines. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994.

Sibley, C. G., and B. L. Monroe, Jr. Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1990.

Sibley, C. G., and B. L. Monroe, Jr. A Supplement to Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1993.

Stiles, F. G., and A. F. Skutch. A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica. Utica, NY: Cornell University Press, 1989.

Periodicals

Coelho, G., and W. Silva. "A New Species of Antilophia (Passeriformes: Pipridae) from Chapada do Araripe, Ceará, Brazil." Ararajuba 6 (1998): 81–84.

Foster, M. S. "Odd Couples in Manakins: A Study of Social Organization and Cooperative Breeding in Chiroxiphia linearis." American Naturalist 111 (1977): 845–853.

Prum, R. O. "Phylogenetic Analysis of the Evolution of Display Behavior in the Neotropical Manakins (Aves: Pipridae)." Ethology 84 (1990): 202–231.

Prum, R. O. "Sexual Selection and the Evolution of Mechanical Sound Production in Manakins (Aves: Pipridae)." Animal Behaviour 55 (1998): 977–994.

Organizations

Association for BioDiversity Information. 1101 Wilson Blvd., 15th Floor, Arlington, VA 22209 USA. Web site: <http://www.infonatura.org/>

University of Michigan. 3019 Museum of Zoology, 1109 Geddes Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1079 USA. Phone:(734) 647-2208. Fax: (734) 763-4080. E-mail: rbpayne @umich.edu Web site: <http://www.ummz.lsa.umich.edu/birds/index.html>

Other

Attenborough, D. The Life of Birds, Episode 7: Finding Partners. BBC Video: British Broadcasting Corporation.1998.

Charles E. Siegel, MS

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