Chiroxiphia linearislong-tailed manakin

Geographic Range

Long-tailed manakins, Chiroxiphia linearis, range from southeastern Mexico, south of Oaxaca, to northwestern Costa Rica, along the Pacific coast (Anciaes and Peterson, 2006; Arévalo and Heeb, 2013; Doucet and Hill, 2009; eBird, 2012). There have been reports of long-tailed manakins as far south as northern Panama (eBird, 2012). (Anciaes and Peterson, 2006; Arévalo and Heeb, 2013; Doucet and Hill, 2009; eBird, 2012)


Long-tailed manakins are found along the Pacific coast in mangroves, lowlands, premontane tropical moist forests, and tropical dry forests (Doucet et al., 2007; Foster, 1976; Slud, 1957; Trainer and McDonald, 1995). Typically, this species is found in areas with a closed canopy (Foster, 1976). Throughout their range seasonality occurs and each habitat experiences a rainy season, May to December, and a dry season, January to April (Doucet et al., 2007; Foster, 1976; Slud, 1957). (Doucet, et al., 2007; Foster, 1976; Slud, 1957; Trainer and McDonald, 1995)

Physical Description

Long-tailed manakins are medium-sized and sexually dimorphic, with bright orange feet (Foster, 1976). Female plumage is dull olive-green that changes very little as birds age. Female long-tailed manakins have a greater wingspan than their male counterpart. Males have brightly ornamented plumage with long central tail feathers that assist in courtship rituals. The primary body plumage of males is black with vibrant light-blue mantles and a bright red crown. A study completed in Costa Rica found the body mass of males to be between 16 and 20 grams and the body mass of females is between 18 and 24 grams (Arévalo and Heeb, 2013). Immature males resemble females, with dull olive-green plumage and red crowns, as seen on adult males. Plumage maturation in males is delayed over a course of 3 to 5 years, with intermediate plumage stages in between until sexual maturity is reached. Light-blue mantles are the final addition to an immature male's plumage development (Slud, 1957). (Arévalo and Heeb, 2013; Foster, 1976; Slud, 1957)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes colored or patterned differently
  • male more colorful
  • ornamentation
  • Range mass
    16 to 24 g
    0.56 to 0.85 oz


Long-tailed manakins have a polygynous mating system where one male may copulate with many females at his lek site. To attract a mate, adult, male manakins perform intricate courtship displays. The display often begins with males sounding a "cheeoo hoo" note to draw birds to their selected lek site (Slud, 1957). Courtship displays consist of an alpha and a beta male working as a partnership, however, only the alpha copulates with the female. Young males that have not been assigned a beta role will assist several alphas until they establish their dominance and make social connections. In most cases, it takes 8 years before a long-term partnership as a beta male is established (Trainer and McDonald, 1995). There are at least two forms of courtship dance (Slud, 1957). The first variation starts with the alpha and beta males perched 10 to 15 cm apart (Trainer and McDonald, 1995). The males will begin by using a "miaow-raow" call that is repeated throughout the dance. Each bird will take turns jumping, hovering while facing the female, and returning to their previous location. As the males jump, they bow their head to showcase their bright red crown to the female. At the same time, they fluff their light-blue mantles and allow their tail feathers to be fully visible. The second variation of the courtship dance appears as a juggling act. The dance is nearly identical to the first variation but as one male leaps into the air the other moves over to take his location on the perch before similarly jumping. As this dance occurs, the alpha male makes the "miaow-raow" call and the beta male makes a low ticking sound. The females will watch from a nearby perch indifferently, or, if they are interested, they will fly to the perch the males are using and interfere with the performance. After the jumping sequence has concluded, the two males fly away in a fashion that resembles the flight pattern of a blue morpho, a large species of butterfly. The males fly slowly in a seemingly random path with a slight bounce (Slud 1957). A study done in Costa Rica discovered that females are more likely to visit a lek site if the singing frequencies of the two males are relatively similar (Trainer and McDonald, 1995). (Slud, 1957; Trainer and McDonald, 1995)

Long-tailed manakins begin breeding in March, with most females undergoing ova enlargement and brood patch development at this time, and can last until September. Nesting occurs during the rainy and dry seasons and the majority of nests are active with eggs or young between April and July. Male long-tailed manakins reach sexual maturity from 3 to 5 years after hatching (Slud, 1957). Females are reproductively active one year after hatching and, on average, lay 1 to 2 beige eggs that have dark brown spots, generally concentrated on the larger end, covering them. The incubation period is unknown as well, as the time to fledging, however, it is believed that fledging may occur in August or September. According to a study conducted in the Guanacaste Region of Costa Rica, average birth weight is 3.0 grams. The nestlings have gray or tan natal down present in their capital, dorsal, scapulohumeral, femoral, and alar tracts. They also have a short black-tipped bill and a yellow, lined mouth (Foster, 1976). (Foster, 1976; Slud, 1957)

  • Breeding interval
    Long-tailed manakins breed once a year.
  • Breeding season
    Breeding occurs from February to September.
  • Range eggs per season
    1 to 2
  • Average eggs per season
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    1 years
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    5 years

Male long-tailed manakins do not assist with nest building or rearing young. Nest building begins in March and takes approximately 3 days to complete. Females choose trees that are less than 3 meters tall and construct the nest in such a way that the nearby branches and leaves create a canopy for protection. Many nests are located in Terminalia lucida. Long-tailed manakin nests hang between a forked branch or from the end of a branch. According to a nesting study, nest materials include spider web or cocoon fibers, fungal rhizomorphs, moss, leaf blades, and other plant fibers. Females will delay incubation for a day after laying the first egg. Once the eggs have hatched, the female will remove fecal matter from the nest regularly and will return to the nest with small fruit to feed the young. If the female detects a disturbance nearby, she will hop out of the nest and perch in a nearby tree to watch vigilantly until the perceived threat is gone. The nesting success of long-tailed manakins is very low due to predators and nest destruction from wind. Eggs have been observed rolling out of a nest during a period of high winds, which occur during the dry season (December through April) (Foster, 1976). (Foster, 1976)

  • Parental Investment
  • altricial
  • female parental care
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-independence
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female


Long-tailed manakins have a relatively long life span. They likely live 12 years or more (McDonald, 1989a). A study analyzing connectivity in their social environment, determined that one of the birds used in the study was at least 18 years old when it was last seen (McDonald, 2007). The longevity of long-tailed manakins could be attributed to their courtship dance, which involves two male birds. The additional bird may provide increased vigilance and result in a decrease in predation (Macedo, 2010). (Macedo, 2010; McDonald, 1989a; McDonald, 2007)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: wild
    18 (high) years


Long-tailed manakins are non-migratory and may have home ranges of up to 80 hectares (McDonald, 1989b). They only forage for roughly an hour a day with trips lasting less than 4 minutes. Individuals are able to feed simultaneously in the same tree without intraspecific aggression (Leck, 1969). Researchers observed that, during a food shortage, adult males spent more time feeding and performed fewer courtship displays (Foster, 1977). Only males socialize and this occurs only at lek sites (Trainer and McDonald, 1995). There is little known about long-tailed manakin behavior. (Leck, 1969; McDonald, 1989b; Trainer and McDonald, 1995)

Home Range

Females may have a home range of up to 80 hectares. (McDonald, 1989b)

Communication and Perception

Long-tailed manakins communicate using various calls and choreographed courtship dances. Common vocalizations include one to four "coo's" or "cow's", a rapid "kur" repeated several times, and singular "uh-ahhhr", "pyeek", and "toe-lay-doe" calls. Males often sound a "cheeoo hoo" note to draw birds to their selected lek site (Slud, 1957). Courtship displays consist of an alpha and a beta male working as a partnership, however, only the alpha copulates with the female (Trainer and McDonald, 1995). There are at least two forms of the courtship dance (Slud, 1957). A study done in Costa Rica discovered that females are more likely to visit a lek site if the singing frequencies of the two males are relatively similar (Trainer and McDonald, 1995). (Slud, 1957; Trainer and McDonald, 1995)

  • Other Communication Modes
  • duets

Food Habits

Long-tailed manakins are frugivores and prefer to eat fruit from tucuido (Ardisia revoluta) and seeds from Stemmadenia donnell-smithii. Tucuidos produce small, dark purple fruits that ripen in March and are produced in abundance until April, or the start of the rainy season. The species of fruit consumed varies annually and is based on weather variations. If there is a shortage of ripe tucuido fruit, then long-tailed manakins will eat fruit in the ripening stage before eating green, or unripe, fruit (Foster, 1977). They also consume the fruit of Trichilia cuneata, the seeds of Muntingia calabura and W. solancea, as well as various insects (Foster, 1976; Murray, 1988). (Foster, 1976; Foster, 1977)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • seeds, grains, and nuts
  • fruit


Eggs are preyed on by a number of local snake species and nests are destroyed by large lizards, such as Ctenosaura similis and Basiliscus basiliscus. Opossums, white-throated capuchins, kinkajous, and coatis are known to prey on eggs and birds. Turquoise-browed motmots, white-necked puffbirds, toucans, magpie jays, and red-tailed squirrels rob long-tailed manakin nests (Foster, 1976; Nadkarni and Wheelwright, 2000). To reduce nest predation, female long-tailed manakins build nests in trees that produce little or no fruit to limit interactions with other species (Foster, 1976). (Foster, 1976; Nadkarni and Wheelwright, 2000)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

Long-tailed manakins are used as a host for at least three species of chewing lice including: Ricinus invadens, Myrsidea andyolsoni, and Tyranniphilopterus toledo. Of the three species identified, Tyranniphilopterus toledo is most common. Individuals with chewing lice are only hosts to one species at a time, but they typically have 1 to 11 lice on the body. There have been a few recorded cases where birds have had 28 to 35 lice on their body. A study conducted in Costa Rica, found that out of 109 individuals examined, only 28 were hosts to chewing lice. The females examined did not carry any eggs or lice, but lice and egg numbers increased on progressively older males (Sychra et al., 2010). Long-tailed manakins are known to disperse seeds of W. solanacea. Seeds are often found beneath male display perches (Murray, 1988). (Murray, 1988; Sychra, et al., 2010)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds
Commensal/Parasitic Species
  • chewing lice (Tyranniphilopterus toledo)
  • chewing lice (Ricinus invadens)
  • chewing lice (Myrsidea andyolsoni)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Long-tailed manakins are often sought after by bird watchers and ecotourists and bring in revenue to local communities. Images of long-tailed manakins are often used as mascots or logos for regions in Central America as well as environmental groups (Hernandez-Divers, 2008). (Hernandez-Divers, 2008)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of Chiroxiphia linearis on humans.

Conservation Status

Long-tailed manakin populations are currently stable (BirdLife International, 2012). (BirdLife International, 2012)


Dawn Marsh (author), Northern Michigan University, Alec Lindsay (editor), Northern Michigan University, Tanya Dewey (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map


uses sound to communicate


young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.


Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


the nearshore aquatic habitats near a coast, or shoreline.


having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.

  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.
dominance hierarchies

ranking system or pecking order among members of a long-term social group, where dominance status affects access to resources or mates


to jointly display, usually with sounds in a highly coordinated fashion, at the same time as one other individual of the same species, often a mate


humans benefit economically by promoting tourism that focuses on the appreciation of natural areas or animals. Ecotourism implies that there are existing programs that profit from the appreciation of natural areas or animals.


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


an area where a freshwater river meets the ocean and tidal influences result in fluctuations in salinity.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


an animal that mainly eats fruit


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.


having more than one female as a mate at one time


rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.


Referring to something living or located adjacent to a waterbody (usually, but not always, a river or stream).

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


remains in the same area


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

sexual ornamentation

one of the sexes (usually males) has special physical structures used in courting the other sex or fighting the same sex. For example: antlers, elongated tails, special spurs.


uses touch to communicate


Living on the ground.


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.


uses sight to communicate


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Arévalo, ., P. Heeb. 2013. Ontogeny of Sexual Dimorphism in the Long-tailed Manakin Chiroxiphia Linearis: Long Maturation of Display Trait Morphology. The Ibis, 147.4: 697-705.

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Doucet, S., G. Hill. 2009. Do Museum Specimens Accurately Represent Wild Birds? A Case Study of Carotenoid, Melanin, and Structural Colours in Long-tailed Manakins Chiroxiphia Linearis.. Journal of Avian Biology, 40/2: 146-156. Accessed January 21, 2013 at

Doucet, S., D. McDonald, M. Foster, R. Clay. 2007. Plumage Development and Molt in Long-Tailed Manakins (chiroxiphia Linearis): Variation According to Sex and Age. The Auk, 124/1: 29-43.

Foster, M. 1977. Ecological and Nutritional Effects of Food Scarcity on a Tropical Frugivorous Bird and its Fruit Source. Ecology, 58/1: 73-85.

Foster, M. 1976. Nesting Biology of the Long-Tailed Manakin. The Wilson Bulletin, 88/3: 400-420.

Hernandez-Divers, S. 2008. Of Birds, People (and Coffee): Research and Conservation in Costa Rica. Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery, 22/1: 59-65.

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McDonald, D. 1989. Cooperation Under Sexual Selection: Age-Graded Changes in a Lekking Bird. The American Naturalist, 134/5: 709-730.

McDonald, D. 2007. Predicting fate from early connectivity in a social network. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104/26: 10910-10914.

Murray, G. 1988. Avian Seed Dispersal of Three Neotropical Gap-Dependent Plants. Ecological Monographs, 58/4: 271-298.

Nadkarni, N., N. Wheelwright. 2000. Monteverde:Ecology and Conservation of a Tropical Cloud Forest: Ecology and Conservation of a Tropical Cloud Forest.. New York, New York: Oxford University Press.

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Sychra, O., T. Najer, F. Kounek, M. Capek, I. Literak. 2010. Chewing Lice (Phthiraptera) on manakins (Passeriformes: Pipridae) from Costa Rica, with description of new species of the genus Tyranniphilopterus (Phthiraptera: Philopteridae). Parasitology Research, 106/4: 925-931.

Trainer, J., D. McDonald. 1995. Singing Performance, Frequency Matching and Courtship Success of Long-Tailed Manakins (Chiroxiphia Linearis). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 37/4: 249-254.

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eBird, 2012. "eBird Range Map" (On-line). Accessed February 12, 2013 at