Notes on the courtship behavior of the blue-backed manakin (Chiroxiphia pareola). American Museum novitates ; no. 1942

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New York, N.Y. : American Museum of Natural History
"The courtship displays of a clan of blue-backed manakins (Chiroxiphia pareola), observed in 1958 on Tobago Island, are described. Two forms of dancing were found: (a) a vertical cartwheel dance involving two males, which seemed to persist until one of the males became too fatigued to dance any further; and (b) a 'bouncing' dance involving one to four males, in which the birds bounced lightly back and forth (often over each other) on nearly horizontal limbs. The cartwheel dances were executed by mixed pairs of males of various ages ranging from the nearly solid green young male and the red-crowned green subadult to the blue-backed, red-headed adult. The clan of manakins was observed dancing in four bowers located in a line close to the ground in tall second-growth forest. One of these bowers seemed to be the primary dancing area. None of the bowers was defended, and none was the private dancing stage of a particular male or pair of males. Instead, the bowers were used seemingly at random, the pairs of males resorting to them to dance the cartwheel dance when, for unknown reasons, they chose to desert one of the other bowers, even in the midst of a dance. This shifting of arenas is postulated to be a mechanism of defense to offset the actions of predators attracted by the dances. Ecology, mechanical noises, calls, and bower building are described. The last consists of a leaf stripping around the bowers. Reference is made to leaf stripping in the magnificent bird of paradise (Diphyllodes) and to the clearing of the ground in certain other bower-making birds. It is postulated that the clearing away of arboreal and terrestrial leaves and debris may also be a mechanism of defense, as it almost certainly tends to reduce the protective value to predators of their cryptic coloration. Social dancing between males in these highly polygamous manakins is thought to function as a replacement for fighting in the selection of the dominant breeding stock"--P. 18-19.
19 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 19).