Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Michael Jackson, Moonwalking and Red-capped Manakins

How many of you have heard of Michael Jackson? I thought so.
How many have seen his "Moonwalk" move? I thought so too.

But, how many of you have heard of the little bird that does it too? Some? not all.
That's ok. I expected that.

Well here you go:

Red-capped Manakin (Pipra mentalis) is a bird of the Central and South American rainforests in the family Pipridae. It is found in Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Peru. 

There are four species of Manakins that are black with red heads, but none of them have a display like the Red-capped does.  It is the only bird in the world known to do the "Moonwalk" move that Michael Jackson made so famous. 

Dr. Kim Bostwick explains more about these tiny, tropical dancers: 

If you haven't been down to Central or South America to see these little guys, I would highly recommend it. They are definitely one of the top 1000 birds to see before you die.

What are the other 999 species you ask? Gunnar Engblom of Kolibri Expeditions is compiling a list of just that. 1000 birds to see before you die.

Another species of Manakin you may have heard about is
Club-winged Manakin.

This species has a slightly different display. They use their modified secondary feathers to produce a violin-like "chup-tseeeeep" sound to attract mates. Studies of this species by Cornell's Dr Kim Bostwickhave shown that they vibrate their wings at 1500hz which is exactly the same frequency as the sound

More on these Manakins from Cornell, via Nat Geo:

In all, Manakins are amazing little birds and some of the flashiest in the rainforest.
They're practically "jumping to be noticed."

On my upcoming trip to Peru this fall, I will hopefully see a few species of Manakins. Red-capped being high on the list of Manakins to see. Till next time, Happy Birding!

1 comment:

Alf said...

Incredible! Manakins are so tiny but so amazing. David Attenborough has a very good segment in the Life of Birds about them. What is the yellow species that bounces off and on the branches in the middle video called?