Manic Manakins

Manacus candei -La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica -male-8.jpg

White-collared Manakin. Photo Jose Calvo. Courtesy Wikipedia.

One of the craziest birds I have ever watched, the manakin is found in tropical forests.  There are 60 different species, all found only in Central and South America.


Small birds, ranging in size from 3-6 inches (7-15 cm), they have short tails and an overall stubby appearance.  Being tropical, the male species are often very brightly-colored.


The remarkable features of the manakins are their sound and movement when the male is courting.  Many manakin species engage in lekking.  This is a male courtship behavior when males display and compete for the female.  More about lekking here.


Juvenile White-collared Manakin. Photo by Rachel C. Taylor. Courtesy Wikipedia.

I have seen several manakin species but the one I have seen most is the white-collared, so I will share this bird with you here.  Their conservation status is rated “of least concern.”


More info here.


The white, yellow, and black male has modified wing feathers to make a snapping and buzzing sound.  When we are hiking through a rainforest where it is dark and dank, there are often hundreds of wild whoops and monkey howls and unknown sounds.  But when I hear that snap, I am immediately at attention.  It is unmistakable.


Click here for the white-collared manakin’s snapping sound, recorded in the Costa Rican forest where I heard it.


And that isn’t all.  There’s more.  The bird shoots around like a ping pong ball.  It is astonishing to witness.


Manacus candei use a patch of forest floor (the lek) to pop around while they are snapping their wings.  If you keep watching it long enough, you see there is a pattern to their dance.


Click here for Matt Gasner’s You Tube video of the white-collared manakin’s courtship display.  I have never linked to a You Tube video before, but this bird dance is that remarkable.


A bird that darts faster than your eye can follow, claps, snaps, and buzzes — an utter and complete joy.




50 thoughts on “Manic Manakins

    • Feathered pinball is a great way to describe the manakin, pc. I’m glad you enjoyed it. My best to you, too, for a terrific week. My guess is school has started, I hope you have a wonderful group of students.

      • The students return tomorrow! They’ll start off like manic manakins, but hopefully settle down with a little “expert” guidance by the end of the week. Be nice to get through the year without too many ruffled feathers…

      • Oh how I enjoyed your comment, pc, complete with relevant and appropriate terms. Made me laugh. I am sure you’ll have the little manikins calmed down in no time.

    • Such a delight to share the manikins with you, Janet, and to see you back after your break. I’m working the morning of our Labor Day (because a novelist doesn’t have labor laws) but am going on a hike this aft., which I am looking very forward to. It’s a lovely day here today, sunny, warm, and still. My best wishes to you, Janet~~

      • Thank you Janet, I know what you mean about the poignancy of these days. I had a wonderful hike. And I’m very excited about my new hummingbird pillow that I ordered from your site.

    • I am so glad you had an extra minute to enjoy the video, David. I like your take on it: “their joyful freedom.” No wonder I feel so much joy observing them. We are going to Trinidad and Tobago in Jan., where there are manikins — I’m looking SO forward to seeing them again! My thanks to you~~

    • I’m really glad you had a chance to see the manakin video, Gunta. Without the video it is hard to imagine how fast and sporadic their mating dance is. Always a treat to have you visit~~

  1. What a amazing ping pong bird! 🙂 Birds are my great love and I’m glad to see a new one I’ve never seen before. You can be lucky to see them again in Tobago and Trinidad! Have a nice day! Simone

    • It is great to have these videos available, because the manakins are not always lekking and their range is limited…and most of all, they are just so cool to see. I enjoyed the golden-collared manakin video too, Sherry, very much. Fun to share manakins with you, thank you.

  2. Jet I literally jumped back from my computer listening to the audio of what sounds like somebody being slapped. I think I would be ducking and weaving if walking along and that sound came cascading about. Fascinating that such a little bird can cause such a racket!

  3. I know about these birds, but I don’t have one single photo of them! They are crazy birds (should have been named coo-coos instead!) Thanks for the great post my friend! 🙂

    • Funny you say that, HJ, because Athena didn’t have any photos of the manakins, either. She sure tried, but they are nearly impossible to capture. I had to use internet photos. I laughed at your name for them “coo-coo.” They are too! Thanks so much, HJ — a delight to hear from you.

    • The white-collared manakins especially look like a ping pong ball. We saw the golden-collared in Peru and they’re another story. Thanks very much for your visits today, Kirt — I always enjoy your kind words.

  4. Thank you for the follow at Rivertop Rambles. I clicked on your post about the manakin and found not only a wonderful introduction to your blog but also into the world of the manakin. I found the video fascinating and went on to explore the world of the manakin species via other related sites. The avian life never fails to fascinate and excite this north-country rambler.

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