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Manakins Make Their Own Fireworks

Watch them and you’ll witness an avian pinball game

The White-bearded Manakin lives in Trinidad and throughout much of South America. The males court females by snapping their wings with firecracker-like pops. A flurry of males flits rapidly back and forth from one slender, bare sapling to another, a foot above the ground. When the male spots the female nearby, he slides down an upright twig, his head held downward, wings whirling, white chin-feathers thrust out like a beard.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 
BirdNote®
White-bearded Manakins: Firecrackers with Feathers

Written by Bob Sundstrom
 
This is BirdNote!
[Male White-bearded Manakins’ wing cracking sounds]

Today we’re in Trinidad, checking out the action on the forest floor. These firecracker-like pops are coming from the wing-snaps of male White-bearded Manakins, performing in a group display. [Male White-bearded Manakins’ wing cracking sounds]

Look closely and you’ll see a dozen or so small, rotund birds. Male White-bearded Manakins look like black-and-white tennis balls with short tails and bright orange legs. With loud wing-snaps, a flurry of males flit rapidly back and forth from one slender, bare sapling to another. It’s like a busy avian pinball game a foot above the ground. 

[Male White-bearded Manakins’ wing cracking sounds]

A female approaches – another little, round bird, this time feathered in green. A male spots her. Like a fireman, he slides down an upright twig, head down, wings whirling, white chin-feathers thrust out like a beard. All this and more, to gain mating rights.

Manakins: The original safe and sane fireworks, made in South America. I'm Michael Stein. Happy 4th of July.

###

Call and wing-snapping of the White-bearded Manakin [7309] provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by D.W. Snow
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Dominic Black
© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org      July 2017     Narrator: Michael Stein

ID# 070406WBMAKPLU  WBMA-01b

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