Long-tailed Manakin

Long-tailed Manakin (Chiroxiphia linearis)Spanish name: Saltarín Toledo

This manakin lives in tropical dry and moist and subtropical moist forest; it is often in thickets, vine tangles, and middle-level trees.

The Long-tailed Manakin is found on the Pacific side of Central America from southern Mexico (Oaxaca and Chiapas) to central Costa Rica.

Physical Description
The Long-tailed Manakin is covered in rich plumage. The male is brighter, with a crimson red crown, pale blue back and shoulders, and two very elongated tail feathers that double the length of the body; the rest of the body is black, with bright orange legs and feet. The female is dull in comparison: she is a solid olive green with a paler green underside, orange legs and feet, and tail feathers that are only slightly elongated. It takes young manakins 3 to 4 years to assume their full plumage.

Interesting Biology
The only manakin present in most of its range, the Long-tailed Manakin exhibits a breeding mechanism called lek-breeding. Two or three males together perform courtship displays in one of several 'courts' in an 'arena'— these are designated areas in their habitat.

The males sing together to attract females; when one appears, she and the males engage in lengthy and complicated displays until the dominant male copulates with her. Then she leaves to raise the young herself. The males, however, stay in their displaying partnership for one to several years; they are not related, but seem to actually be attached to each other. The dominant male assumes all copulations. The other male stays in the partnership because he will take the dominant position in their court after his partner leaves.

Meanwhile, the female constructs a shallow cup of moss, leaves, and cobwebs between twigs in a small tree, and lays 1-2 beige-tan eggs spotted with dark brown.

This manakin uses a sallying technique to forage: it keeps a central perch, leaving it repeatedly to seize fruits off of trees, then returning to the perch. This bird's diet is almost exclusively comprised of fruit, especially those of Cecropia peltata, Cocoloba caracasana, and Trema micrantha.

These birds weigh about 19 g. The body of the Long-tailed Manakin is 11.5 cm; adult males have an additional 10-15 cm of tail feathers, and adult females have tail feathers 2-3 cm long.

Brief Taxonomy
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Pipridae

M. S. Foster in: Janzen, Daniel H. Costa Rican Natural History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983.

Skutch, Alexander F. and F. Gary Stiles. A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica. Utica: Cornell University Press, 1989.

Amy Strieter, Wildlife Writer