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.
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.