Grafton Wildlife Sanctuary, Tobago
Photo courtesy Dr. Steve M.R. Young
This bird is resident on Tobago but not found on Trinidad. The Tobago sub-species
(Chiroxiphia pareola atlantica) is larger and has brighter colours on the crest and mantle
than the South American sub-species. This bird is black with a scarlet "V"
shaped crown patch and blue back. The legs are orange. The female is different from the
male being olive green and heavily tinged yellow on the underparts. Its legs are yellow.
Their size is approximately 5 inches ( 12.7cm) and weight 19 grams. The immature are
similar to the male.
In the joint dance, the dominant male jumps and flies backward over another subordinate
male which moves forward while the jump is taking place and then jumps backward over the
dominant male. Two males will also alternately jump up and down on the perch while
uttering a buzzing note, so that the two birds jumping alternately produce
a rhythmic twanging. If a female lands on the perch, they face her
and continue the dance. Copulation itself is preceded by a quite different, silent
display, performed by a single male, presumed to be the "owner" of the display
perch. Generally only the dominant male mates with the female. David Snow has postulated
that joint displays between two or more males have presumably evolved because they are
more conspicuous and so more attractive to females than displays by single males. Steven
Hilty in writing about the work of Mercedes Foster in Costa Rica has stated that "the
subdominant males are not as altruistic as they might seem. There are chances for stolen
copulations and eventually they may replace the dominant male. This long period of
cooperation is therefore more beneficial than performing alone when there is probably no
chance of attracting a female".
Family - Manakins
Other Names - Tobago Manakin
Latin Name - Chiroxiphia pareola
Range - From Colombia southwards through Venezuela and Brazil, into the Guianas and on Tobago.
Gilpin Trace, Tobago
Photo courtesy Stuart Elsom
Birds of Venezuela. Steven L. Hilty. 2003, Christopher Helm, London
Birds of Tropical America, Steven L. Hilty. 1994, Chapters Publishing, Vermont.
A Guide to the Birds of Trinidad and Tobago. 2nd edition, Richard ffrench. 1992, Helm, LondonDavid W. Snow, 1963. The Display Of The Orange-Headed Manakin. The Condor, Vol. 65:44-48. D. W. Snow, 1971. Social Organization Of The Blue-Backed Manakin. The Wilson Bulletin, Vol. 1, 35 - 38
Gary Graves, Mark Robbins, and J. V. Remsen Jr., 1983. Age and Sexual Difference in Spatial Distribution and Mobility in Manakins (Pipridae): Inferences from Mist-Netting. Journal of Field Ornithology Vol. 54, 407 - 412
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