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Manakins: Pipridae

Wire-tailed Manakin (pipra Filicauda): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: Wire-tailed manakins are about 4.5 inches (11 centimeters) long. The females are dull olive-colored birds, but the males are brilliantly colored. Males have red from the top of their head through their upper back, a black back, bright yellow undersides, and long, thin tail feathers.

Geographic range: These birds are found in northeastern Peru, southeastern Colombia, eastern Ecuador, and in the rainforests of Venezuela and Brazil.

Habitat: Wire-tailed manakins prefer the edges of humid, tropical forests, forest clearings, and the edges of agricultural land.

Diet: Wire-tailed manakins eat berries and fruit. They hunt for food near the top part of the forest close to the canopy.

Behavior and reproduction: Wire-tailed manakins do not clear a lek space on the ground. Instead, they create perches about 4 to 6 feet (1.2 to 1.8 meters) above the ground in the understory. Each male may have several of these display perches. Although they have a distinctive call, wire-tailed manakins are mostly silent while they are lekking. Their courtship ritual consists of short flights, swoops, and jumps along a branch. They also lift the feathers of their lower back like a fan.

Wire-tailed manakins and people: Wire-tailed manakins are quieter and less noticeable than some of the other members of this family. They are of interest mainly to serious birdwatchers and ecotourists.

Conservation status: Wire-tailed manakins are not threatened. ∎



Hilty, Steven L. Birds of Venezuela. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003.

Kircher, John. A Neotropical Companion: An Introduction to the Animals, Plants, and Ecosystems of the New World Tropics, 2nd ed. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999.

Ridgley, Robert S., and Guy Tudor. The Birds of South America. Vol 2, The Suboscine Passerines. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1994.

Sibley, David. The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2001.


McDonald, David B., and Wayne K. Potts. "Cooperative Display and Relatedness Among Males in a Lek-Mating Bird." Science (November 11, 1995): 1030–1033.

"The Buddy System." Discover (April 1995): 18–19.

Web sites:

Robertson, Don. "Bird Families of the World." CREAGRUS@Monterey Bay. http://www.montereybay.com/creagrus/index.html (accessed on May 4, 2004).

"Manakins and the Plant Family Melastomataceae." Ecology Online. http://www.ecology.info/manakins-melastomataceae.htm (accessed on May 4, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsManakins: Pipridae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Long-tailed Manakin (chiroxiphia Linearis): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, MANAKINS AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS