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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

Long-Tailed Manakin: 21 Facts You Won't Believe!

Long-tailed manakin facts about the bird species of the new world with a very different wrrreh call.

Bird species watching in places like Sanjay Gandhi National Park may lead us to sight some of the most beautiful birds to happen in our vicinity. It is an art in itself to be able to know about a bird just by looking at it or hearing its wrrreh call. There are several birds that occur in nature with varied wingspans, plumage color, habits, and sizes. One such bird we will be discussing in this fact file is a long-tailed manakin. The long-tailed manakin (Chiroxiphia linearis) is a beautiful bird of the family Pipridae and is endemic to the Central American Continent. They have a uniquely long, slender tail and have dark yet attractive plumage, show a very complex pattern of courtship display and a hierarchical system consisting of dominant alpha and beta males that rule the community. They were first named and discussed by a French biologist Charles Lucien Jules Laurent Bonaparte who was the second prince of Canino and Musignano. Scientifically these birds are known as Chiroxiphia linearis.

Here are some of the most important facts about long-tailed manakins (Chiroxiphia linearis) known for their mating displays. Afterward, do have a look at our other articles on the lovely cotinga and rock wren.

Long-Tailed Manakin Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a long-tailed manakin?

The long-tailed manakin (Chiroxiphia linearis) species is a bird, a songbird more specifically. It shows a unique way of courtship display and complex mating behavior. Besides, like some mammals and apes, long-tailed manakins show a hierarchical system with a dominant alpha male and a betta assistant.

What class of animal does a long-tailed manakin belong to?

A long-tailed manakin (chiroxiphia linearis) is a bird, belonging to class aves in phylum Chordata and kingdom Animalia. Further, long-tailed manakins belong to the genus chiroxiphia of the family Pipridae, the family of manakin birds in the order Passeriformes, the order of preacher birds.

How many long-tailed manakins are there in the world?

Long tailed manakins, (chiroxiphia linearis) just like any other passerine bird, is a medium-sized bird.

Where does a long-tailed manakin live?

Long-tailed manakin (chiroxiphia linearis) species prefer dry tropical and subtropical forests for survival. Long-tailed manakins are largely found in central and south America in Northwestern Costa Rica Forests, El Salvador region, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico in Central America, and Nicaragua.

What is a long-tailed manakin's habitat?

Long-tailed manakin males are mostly found in the mangrove forests near the Pacific Coast, in lowland regions, in tropical moist forests where a female builds her nests post-mating. Long-tailed manakins are usually found dwelling in areas with closed canopy for seeking shelter and building nests to raise young ones.

Who do long-tailed manakins live with?

The long-tailed manakin species is a highly social bird that is very involved in family life. In the 80 hectares of the area where long-tailed manakins breed they are found interacting and foraging with the other members of the same species. Females mostly prefer solitary while the male birds are mostly seen socializing and interacting frequently with other male birds and will form long-term partnership duo. When a female arrives in the area, two males get down to a dance perch which is present near the forest floor. On this perch, the two males perform a courtship display for the female bird.

How long does a long-tailed manakin live?

These birds have a decent life span in their natural habitats. On average, a long-tailed manakin may live for around 12 years or above. Some birds live as long as 18 years in the natural habitat range. Their increased lifespan can be a result of a unique courtship display that reduces the chance of them getting attacked by a predator.

How do they reproduce?

Complex reproductive behavior is seen in these birds. Long-tailed manakins have a polygamous mating system where one male can mate with multiple female partners at the lek site. Male begins the courtship display with a wrrreh call sound to attract other birds. Then the alpha male bird works in partnership with a beta male bird. The dance consists of two parts. First, both alpha and beta male birds perch at a said distance. Second, the alpha male performs displaying a  cartwheel and gives a call like miaow-raow. After the display is over, the alpha male mates with the female and the female alone builds a nest to lay the eggs after one or two days.

What is their conservation status?

Their population is stable for now, and they fall in the Least Concern category of species under the IUCN Red List. Their unique courtship dances are a topic of importance for bird lovers, who make all the efforts to conserve their population. The population of these birds can be found in abundance in tropical forests in dry and humid lowlands and foothills.

Long-Tailed Manakin Fun Facts

What do long-tailed manakins look like?

Chiroxiphia linearis is a medium-sized bird and can be physically distinguished into male and female birds. Both sexes have bright orange legs but the plumage in females is olive green in color and has a very dull appearance.  But in males, it is well ornamented and they have black plumage and a long central tail fin that aids in courtship display and other mating rituals. Males have a dark plumage with a crown that is bright red in appearance and has light blue mantles while the female crown has a tinge of red as well. Studies show that males are lighter in weight than female manakin birds.  Males show a delay in the maturation of plumage and the whole process takes place over a span of three to five years.

Long-tailed manakins are known to perform a complex coordinated courtship dance.

How cute are they?

These birds are really cute. Long-tailed manakins are a point of attraction for bird watchers due to their behavioral ecology. The plumage is dark but the patterns make them appear like royalty. Their slightly flat head and unique bill appearance all are points of attraction.

How do they communicate?

A long-tailed manakin belongs to the order Passeriformes. The birds of this order are all preacher birds or songbirds which means long-tailed manakins use unique calls for communicating. During courtship displays, alpha male birds use a miaow-how song as a part of courtship displays to attract the female bird. The male birds are really social and are often seen interacting with other birds of the same species and have acquired newer song characteristics over the years.

How big is a long-tailed manakin?

Preacher birds are usually small to medium-sized birds. Unlike other birds, a female long-tailed manakin bird is usually bulkier and more stout than the male bird.  An average long-tailed manakin may measure in the range of 3.14-4.72 in (8-12 cm) in length.

How fast can a long-tailed manakin fly?

A long-tailed manakin has a really quick flying speed. Long-tailed manakins are said to be one of the swiftest flying birds present on earth. The proper count of the flying speed of this manakin bird is not known but they are seen flying at a really good speed during foraging. Their wingspan is made of some really strong muscles that help them in producing really quick motions during the flight.

How much does a long-tailed manakin weigh?

Unlike other birds, a male long-tailed manakin is smaller and less bulky than a female. An average adult female long-tailed manakin may weigh between a range of 0.03-0.05 lb (18-24 gm) and the male weight range is between 0.03-0.04 lb (16-20 g) on average.

What are the male and female names of the species?

Interestingly a long-tailed manakin shows a hierarchy system comprising both sexes. In terms of naming, both sexes do not have any particular name, hence males may be referred to as alpha and beta but females do not have any specific name. Males are mostly black while the females are primarily olive green in color.

What would you call a baby long-tailed manakin?

A baby long-tailed manakin may be referred to as a nestling after birth and hatchling once it hatches out of the egg. The nestling at birth may weigh around 0.10 oz (3 g) and stays back in the nest with the mother until August-September after which they fledge on their own. Nestlings can be recognized with their tan plumage, a short bill with a black tip, orange legs, red crown, and mouth that is yellow and lined in appearance.

What do they eat?

Long-tailed manakins are omnivorous birds. Long-tailed manakins may be seen feeding on things larger than their size. Their diet consists of small fruits such as berries and a variety of insects. This is one reason those long-tailed manakins are said to have evolved from insect-eating birds through natural selection. Their food habits are similar to the red-capped manakin.

Are they dangerous?

A long-tailed manakin is a small-sized bird and does not cause any harm to humans and has friendly characteristics. But that doesn't mean that they do not know how to defend themselves in case of a threat. Long-tailed manakins are said to be dangerous prey catchers and show extraordinary predatory abilities even though their prey are small insects.

Would they make a good pet?

A long-tailed manakin is a non-migratory bird that is seen foraging within its natural habitats and territory. But they are meant for the wild and not to be kept in domesticated environments, even with caring foster parents. Long-tailed manakins are not really suitable to be taken as pets as they foster complex social behavior and prefer living in small flocks of the same species, which means if they are held captive, their longevity may get affected. Some great alternatives to keep as pets include finches, parrots, and budgerigars.

Did you know...

A long-tailed manakin is very similar in appearance to a lance-tailed manakin and the blue-backed manakin birds. They are also very similar to swallow-tailed manakins and the Yungas manakin. All of them have a similar characteristic red crown and their back is blue.

How does the long-tailed manakin male bird stand apart from other birds?

Male long-tailed manakin birds show a hierarchy system, where the alpha male is the dominant and the beta male is second in rank. During a courtship display, an alpha male shows a unique dance to attract females for mating and the beta male assists them in the process. But only the alpha male gets to keep the female bird for more than 12 years, at least till it dies then the beta male takes over.

Do long-tailed manakins dance?

BBC records from the Costa Rica Forests show these birds displaying a unique dance during courtship display a pre-mating ritual. It consists of parts and the alpha male produces a call like miaow-raow to attract the female bird for mating. Their dance consists of jumping high in the air, producing guttural calls, performing cartwheels. They also show a popcorn dance consisting of really fast movements that cannot be timed easily.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these robin facts and purple sandpiper facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable long-tailed manakin coloring pages.

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