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The manakins are a family, Pipridae, of small suboscine passerine birds. The group contains some 60 species distributed through the American tropics. The name is from Middle Dutch mannekijn "little man" (also the source of the different bird name mannikin).[1]

Flickr - Rainbirder - Long-tailed Manakin (Chiroxiphia linearis).jpg
Male long-tailed manakin (Chiroxiphia linearis)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Parvorder: Tyrannida
Family: Pipridae
Rafinesque, 1815

Many, see text

Manakin (Pipridae) area.svg
Manakin range



They range in size from 7 to 15 cm (3 to 6 in) and in weight from 8 to 30 g (0.28 to 1.06 oz). The genus Tyranneutes comprise the smallest manakins, the genus Antilophia are believed to be the largest (since the genus Schiffornis 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,[2] the males being mostly black with striking colours in patches,[3] 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.[2]

The syrinx or "voicebox" 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 may be identified by the syrinx alone, unlike birds of most oscine families. The sounds made are whistles, trills, and buzzes.[2]

Distribution and habitatEdit

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,[2] and the subtropical Andes.[4] Some highland species have altitudinal migrations.

Behaviour and ecologyEdit


Manakins feed in the understorey on small fruit (but often remarkably large for the size of the bird[4]) 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.[2]


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.[2]

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 may be traced by similarities in displays. An evolutionary explanation connecting lekking to fruit-eating has been proposed.[2]

Species listEdit

The family Pipridae was introduced (as Pipraria) by the French polymath Constantine Samuel Rafinesque in 1815.[5][6] The members of the genus Schiffornis were previously placed in this family, but are now placed in Tityridae.[7]

Image Genus Living Species
  Pseudopipra Kirwan et al, 2016
  Pipra Linnaeus, 1764
  Ceratopipra Bonaparte, 1854
  Lepidothrix Bonaparte, 1854
  Antilophia L. Reichenbach, 1850
  Chiroxiphia Cabanis, 1847
  Ilicura L. Reichenbach, 1850
  Masius Bonaparte, 1850
  Corapipo Bonaparte, 1854
  Manacus Brisson, 1760
  Machaeropterus Hahn, 1819
Xenopipo Cabanis, 1847
  Cryptopipo Ohlson et al., 2013
  • Green manakin, Cryptopipo holochlora
  • Lita manakin, Cryptopipo (holochlora) litae
Chloropipo Cabanis & Heine, 1859
  Heterocercus Strickland, 1850
  Neopelma P.L. Sclater, 1861
  Tyranneutes P.L. Sclater & Salvin, 1881


  1. ^ New Oxford American Dictionary (2nd ed., 2005), p. 1032.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Prum, Richard O.; Snow, David W. (2003). "Manakins". In Perrins, Christopher (ed.). The Firefly Encyclopedia of Birds. Firefly Books. pp. 434–437. ISBN 978-1-55297-777-4.
  3. ^ Lanyon, Scott N. (1991). Forshaw, Joseph (ed.). Encyclopaedia of Animals: Birds. London: Merehurst Press. pp. 167–168. ISBN 978-1-85391-186-6.
  4. ^ a b Snow, D. W. (2004). Family Pipridae (Manakins). Pp. 110-169 in: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., & Christie, D. A. eds (2004). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 9. Cotingas to Pipits and Wagtails. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. ISBN 84-87334-69-5
  5. ^ Rafinesque, Constantine Samuel (1815). Analyse de la nature ou, Tableau de l'univers et des corps organisés (in French). Palermo: Self-published. p. 66.
  6. ^ Bock, Walter J. (1994). History and Nomenclature of Avian Family-Group Names. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. Number 222. New York: American Museum of Natural History. pp. 149, 252.
  7. ^ Remsen, J. V., Jr., C. D. Cadena, A. Jaramillo, M. Nores, J. F. Pacheco, M. B. Robbins, T. S. Schulenberg, F. G. Stiles, D. F. Stotz, & K. J. Zimmer. 2007. A classification of the bird species of South America. Archived 2009-03-02 at the Wayback Machine American Ornithologists' Union. Accessed 12 December 2007.

Further readingEdit

  • Ohlson, J.I.; Fjeldså, J.; Ericson, P.G.P. (2013). "Molecular phylogeny of the manakins (Aves: Passeriformes: Pipridae), with a new classification and the description of a new genus". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 69 (3): 796–804. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2013.06.024.

External linksEdit