Pipridae – Manakins

Red-capped Manakin Ceratopipra mentalis ©Will Price Website

The manakins are a clade (Pipridae) of small suboscine passerine birds. The group contains some 52 species distributed through the American tropics. The name is from Middle Dutch mannekijn ‘little man’ (also the source of the different bird name mannikin).

They range in size from 7cm to 15cm and in weight from 8gm to 30gm. The genus Tyranneutes comprise the smallest manakins, the genus Antilophia are believed to be the largest (since the Schiffornis genus are no longer considered manakins). They are compact stubby birds with short tails, broad and rounded wings, and big heads. The bill is short and has a wide gap. Females and first-year males have dull green plumage; most species are sexually dichromatic in their plumage, the males being mostly black with striking colours in patches, and in some species having long, decorative tail or crown feathers or erectile throat feathers. In some species, males from two to four years old have a distinctive subadult plumage.

The syrinx is distinctive in manakins, setting them apart from the related families Cotingidae and Tyrannidae. Furthermore, it is so acutely variable within the group that genera and even species can be identified by the syrinx alone, unlike birds of most oscine families. The sounds made are whistles, trills, and buzzes.

Manakins occur from southern Mexico to northern Argentina, Paraguay, and southern Brazil, and on Trinidad and Tobago as well. They are highly arboreal and are almost exclusively forest and woodland birds. Most species live in humid tropical lowlands, with a few in dry forests, river forests, and the subtropical Andes. Some highland species have altitudinal migrations.

Manakins feed in the understorey on small fruit (but often remarkably large for the size of the bird) including berries, and to a lesser degree, insects. Since they take fruit in flight as other species hawk for insects, they are believed to have evolved from insect-eating birds. Females have big territories from which they do not necessarily exclude other birds of their species, instead feeding somewhat socially. Males spend much of their time together at courtship sites. Manakins sometimes join mixed feeding flocks.

Many manakin species have spectacular lekking courtship rituals, which are especially elaborate in the genera Pipra and Chiroxiphia. The members of the genera Machaeropterus and Manacus have heavily modified wing feathers, which they use to make buzzing and snapping sounds. Building of the nest (an open cup, generally low in vegetation), incubation for 18 to 21 days, and care of the young for 13 to 15 days are undertaken by the female alone, since most manakins do not form stable pairs. (The Helmeted Manakin does form pairs, but the male’s contribution is limited to defending the territory.) The normal clutch is two eggs, which are buff or dull white, marked with brown.

Lekking polygyny seems to have been a characteristic of the family’s original ancestor, and the associated sexual selection led to an adaptive radiation in which relationships can be traced by similarities in displays. An evolutionary explanation connecting lekking to fruit-eating has been proposed.

Species List

The IOC identifies 52 species in this family; they are:

Dwarf Tyrant-Manakin Tyranneutes stolzmanni
Tiny Tyrant-Manakin Tyranneutes virescens

Saffron-crested Tyrant-Manakin Neopelma chrysocephalum
Sulphur-bellied Tyrant-Manakin Neopelma sulphureiventer
Pale-bellied Tyrant-Manakin Neopelma pallescens
Wied’s Tyrant-Manakin Neopelma aurifrons
Serra do Mar Tyrant-Manakin Neopelma chrysolophum

Yellow-headed Manakin Chloropipo flavicapilla
Jet Manakin Chloropipo unicolor

Araripe Manakin Antilophia bokermanni
Helmeted Manakin Antilophia galeata

Long-tailed Manakin Chiroxiphia linearis
Lance-tailed Manakin Chiroxiphia lanceolata
Blue-backed Manakin Chiroxiphia pareola
Yungas Manakin Chiroxiphia boliviana
Blue Manakin Chiroxiphia caudata

Pin-tailed Manakin Ilicura militaris

Golden-winged Manakin Masius chrysopterus

White-throated Manakin Corapipo gutturalis
White-ruffed Manakin Corapipo altera
White-bibbed Manakin Corapipo leucorrhoa

Olive Manakin Xenopipo uniformis
Black Manakin Xenopipo atronitens

Green Manakin Cryptopipo holochlora

Blue-crowned Manakin Lepidothrix coronata
Snow-capped Manakin Lepidothrix nattereri
Golden-crowned Manakin Lepidothrix vilasboasi
Opal-crowned Manakin Lepidothrix iris
Orange-bellied Manakin Lepidothrix suavissima
White-fronted Manakin Lepidothrix serena
Blue-rumped Manakin Lepidothrix isidorei
Cerulean-capped Manakin Lepidothrix coeruleocapilla

Orange-crested Manakin Heterocercus aurantiivertex
Yellow-crested Manakin Heterocercus flavivertex
Flame-crested Manakin Heterocercus linteatus

White-bearded Manakin Manacus manacus
White-collared Manakin Manacus candei
Golden-collared Manakin Manacus vitellinus
Orange-collared Manakin Manacus aurantiacus

Crimson-hooded Manakin Pipra aureola
Wire-tailed Manakin Pipra filicauda
Band-tailed Manakin Pipra fasciicauda

Club-winged Manakin Machaeropterus deliciosus
Eastern Striped Manakin Machaeropterus regulus
Western Striped Manakin Machaeropterus striolatus
Fiery-capped Manakin Machaeropterus pyrocephalus

White-crowned Manakin Pseudopipra pipra

Scarlet-horned Manakin Ceratopipra cornuta
Red-capped Manakin Ceratopipra mentalis
Round-tailed Manakin Ceratopipra chloromeros
Golden-headed Manakin Ceratopipra erythrocephala
Red-headed Manakin Ceratopipra rubrocapilla

Species Links
  • Eastern Striped Manakin Machaeropterus regulus

    Species Account
    The striped manakin (Machaeropterus regulus) is a small South American species of bird in the Pipridae family. Its distribution is highly disjunct: The nominate subspecies is found in Atlantic Forest in eastern Brazil, while the striolatus group is found in forests in western Brazil, northeastern Peru, eastern Ecuador, Colombia, and western and southern Venezuela.
  • Eastern Striped Manakin Machaeropterus regulus

    Cornell Species Account
    The Striped Manakin is an inconspicuous bird of forest understory; it apparently does not have much of a display, and its song is quiet and easily overlooked. The distribution of the Striped Manakin overlaps in southwestern Amazonia with that of the similar Fiery-capped Manakin (Machaeropterus pyrocephalus), but elsewhere only one species or the other is present.
  • Eastern Striped Manakin Machaeropterus regulus

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Golden-headed Manakin Ceratopipra erythrocephala

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • Golden-headed Manakin Pipra erythrocephala

    Species Account
    The golden-headed manakin (Ceratopipra erythrocephala) is a small passerine bird which breeds in tropical Central and South America in both wet and dry forests, secondary growth and plantations.
  • Golden-headed Manakin Pipra erythrocephala

    Cornell Species Account
    Golden-headed Manakin is fairly common in lowland forest and taller second growth in eastern Panama and in northern South America.
  • Red-capped Manakin Ceratopipra mentalis

    Species Account
    The red-capped manakin (Ceratopipra mentalis) is a species of bird in the Pipridae family. It is found in Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru and Panama. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests.
  • Red-capped Manakin Ceratopipra mentalis

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • White-bearded Manakin Manacus manacus

    Full species account…
  • White-bearded Manakin Manacus manacus

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map.
  • White-bearded Manakin Manacus manacus

    Species Account
    The white-bearded manakin (Manacus manacus) is a small passerine bird which breeds in tropical South America. It is found from Colombia, Venezuela and Trinidad south to Bolivia and northern Argentina.
  • White-bearded Manakin Manacus manacus

    Cornell Species Account
    The White-bearded Manakin is a widespread species in northern South America from Colombia to northern Argentina. Males of the species gather at communal leks to display for females.
  • White-fronted Manakin Lepidothrix serena

    Species Account
    The white-fronted manakin (Lepidothrix serena) is a species of bird in the Pipridae family, the manakins. It is native to French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname and northeastern Brazil where it inhabits subtropical and tropical moist lowland forest.
  • White-fronted Manakin Pipra serena

    BirdLife Species Account
    Full species account…
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 52

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