manakin măn´əkən [key], common name for stocky, tiny birds, most measuring less than 5 in. (12.5 cm) long, comprising 59 species in the family Pipridae. Manakins are found throughout the forested areas of Central and South America, where they feed on a diet of small fruits picked on the wing, and occasional insects. They are noted for their curiously modified wing feathers, with which the birds produce a series of whirring and snapping sounds during flight. The sexes differ markedly. The females of most of the species are inconspicuous olive green birds. Males are strikingly arrayed. Primarily greenish brown to black, they have brilliant patches of red, blue, and yellow, often with further ornamental modifications, such as the long central tail feathers of the Fandango birds, genus Chiroxiphia. In manakins, as in their relatives, the cotingas, male ornamentation is often coupled with elaborate mating displays. Among the Fandango birds, e.g., C. pareola, two or more males cooperate to perform a complex series of acrobatics in order to attract female onlookers. Gould's manakin, Manacus vitellinus, clears an area of the forest floor of litter between two saplings and performs a leaping dance, snapping his wings noisily and flitting from branch to branch. When he is joined by a female, mating occurs and the female flies off to lay her 2 pale brown, mottled eggs. The male is polygamous and mates with as many females as he attracts. The female weaves delicate hammock nests of grass, slung in ferns or saplings and typically overlying water. She is entirely responsible for incubation and care of the young. Manakins are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Passeriformes, family Pipridae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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