Blue-backed Manakin Male (Chiroxiphia pareola)


June 23, 2012

Blue-backed Manakin

Nancy took this image while on a trip led by Brian Rapoza for the Tropical Audubon Society to Trinidad and Tobago.

This is a small, plump bird (5" long, ⅔ ounce), found in deciduous forests (but not evergreen rainforests) of riverine areas. They are a fairly common species with a wide range. They breed from southern Columbia, eastern Venezuela, Tobago, the Guyanas to southeastern Brazil and the Amazon basin in Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia.

They are named for the sky-blue patch on the back of the males (barely showing on both shoulders of the one pictured above). The race endemic to Tobago (C.p. atlantica) is larger and has more extensive red on the crown and blue on its back. The subspecies of the southwest Amazon (C.p. regina) has a yellow crown instead of red. Females and juveniles are olive-green with paler underparts like other manakins (see Golden-headed Manakin), except that they have the same orange feet as the adult males.

Like other manakins, males get involved in group lekking behavior with jumps and twirls. This species is unusual, however, in that their breeding display seems to be cooperative instead of competitive. Up to eight males may participate in the dance as four pairs. As in other manakin species, the female does all of the chores related to raising a family (nest building, incubating, feeding young, etc.).

Photographic details: Canon EOS 7D camera w/ EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens set at 400 mm. Off-camera flash was used. Camera was on f/6.7 for 1/1500 second at ISO 2000.

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