Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Manakin Bird Can Moonwalk

Many birds have fascinating courtship rituals. Many will sing to attract and/or bond with a mate. Some preen each other. Some feed each other. In some species, the male will build a nest to show his construction skills to the females. Some like to show off their feathers, chest muscles, or their tail feathers (such as the male peafowl and turkey). Raptors and some shorebirds perform stunning aerial displays. Dancing is another popular courtship behavior among our feathered friends, and one of the most entertaining bird dances is performed by the male Red-capped Manakin.

This bird's range extends from southern Mexico, through much of Central America, and into Colombia and Ecuador. Once the rainy season is over (which runs from October through January), the Red-capped Manakin is ready for love. Males engage in "lekking behavior," which means several gather in one location and compete for the attentions of the females. The male manakins look for a long, straight branch without any leaves that might get in their way, and use it as a display perch for the entire season. This bird has four common displays: flying in a circle, darting around the vegetation surrounding his perch, showing off his yellow thigh feathers, and shuffling backwards along his perch. The steps are so tiny and he does them so quickly that, to the human eye, it looks like the Manakin is doing the Moonwalk. When a female likes what she sees, she'll join her chosen male on the perch.

Could you stop watching the video after one viewing? Neither could I.

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