Orange-collared Manakin – lek in the south Pacific

Manakins are found only in the Americas, and only in the tropical regions. In Costa Rica we have 9 species. One of these, originally called the Gray-headed Manakin, has now been renamed the Gray-headed Piprites, while another bird was originally classed as a manakin and was called the Thrush-like Manakin. This species has now been renamed the Northern Schiffornis.

In my immediate vicinity here on the Turrialba Volcano slope the only manakins species you are likely to encounter is the White-collared Manakin (Manacus candei), although two others, the White-ruffed Manakin (Corapipa altera) and the White-crowned Manakin (Dixiphia pipra) can sometimess be found in the Turrialba area. Here’s a picture of the beautiful male White-collared Manakin:

Manakin, White-collared, male Rio Tuis (1)

Male White-collared Manakin at the Rio Tuis, Turrialba

The star of the show this time, however, is the Orange-collared Manakin (Manacus aurantiacus), a species I had first seen at Drake on the Osa Peninsula. This is the Pacific version of the White-collared Manakin. It is possibly even more beautiful and the male shares the wing-popping habits of the White-collared.

Manakin, Orange-collared, male, Finca Estrella (5)

Male Orange-collared Manakin at Finca La Estrella, courtesy of John Beer

Friend, forestry expert and photographer John Beer took Larry Waddell and yours truly on a marvelous excursion to Finca La Estrella in the southernmost part of the Pacific coast province of Puntarenas.  We were given a special treat when we found an area in thick forest where several males had each cleared debris from a small patch, called a lek, on the forest floor in order to display to females. The characteristic wing-popping of competing males then becomes at times a frenzy.

Larry was able to get the following picture of one male that ‘popped’ into view!

Orange-collared Manakin

Male Orange-collared Manakin at Finca La Estrella, courtesy of Larry Waddell

The female of the species, object of the courtship displays in the lek is a dull olive-green bird, to all intents and purposes identical to the female White-collared Manakin. In John’s photo of a female in the dark understorey, however, this particular individual looked simply grey:

Manakin, Orange-collared, female, Finca Estrella (3)

Female Orange-collared Manakin at Finca La Estrella; photo by John Beer

Stay tuned for further descriptions of the wonderful birding excursion that we enjoyed, in between cold beers, at Finca La Estrella.

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