Blue-backed Manakins

Blue-backed Manakins

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The Blue-backed Manakin, Chiroxiphia pareola, breeds in tropical South America; where it is common in southern Colombia, eastern Venezuela, Guyana, Brazil in the northeast and the Amazon basin, and Tobago.

They inhabit dry and moist deciduous forests, and for the most part avoid the rainforest.


Blue-backed Manakin is a compact averaging 13 cm in length and weighing around 19 g.

They are brightly colored.

The male is mainly black with a red crown patch, bright blue back, and pale orange legs. The immature males is olive, but shows a red cap and the start of a blue back as they approach maturity.

The female is olive-green above and below a paler olive color.

Similar Species: Blue-backed Manakins look similar to the Lance-tailed Manakin, Chiroxiphia lanceolata, which breeds further north (northern Venezuela to Costa Rica). However, the Lance-tailed Manakin can be identified by its elongated central tail feathers, and the male has a brighter blue back.

Breeding / Mating Rituals:

The male Blue-backed Manakins have an interesting breeding display - which is cooperative rather than competitive. During this display, two males will perch next to each other and jump up and down alternately, making buzzing calls. When a female approaches, the perching male moves backwards under the other jumping male - so the two perform a vertical circling movement. Groups of up to eight birds have been observed performing together - with a different perch for each pair of displaying males.

The females is responsible for building the twigs nest in trees. She usually lays two brown-mottled white eggs and incubates them alone for about 20 days. She also raises the chicks alone.

Call / Song:

Apart from the buzzing display song, Blue-backed Manakin has a number of other calls, including a whee-whee-CHUP, sometimes given by two male in synchrony.


Blue-backed manakins eat a variety of fruits and some insects, particularly during the breeding season, when their need for protein increases.

Species Research by Sibylle Johnson

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