- Golden-collared Manakin
 - Golden-collared Manakin
 - Golden-collared Manakin
 - Golden-collared Manakin

Golden-collared Manakin Manacus vitellinus Scientific name definitions

Nicholas D. Sly
Version: 2.0 — Published March 3, 2023
Revision Notes

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The Golden-collared Manakin is a common frugivore of secondary forest understory in Panama and northwestern Colombia. Males are distinctive in appearance, with a deep golden-yellow neck and throat forming a collar that is juxtaposed with a jet black crown, back, and wings. Females and immature males, in comparison, are drab olive-green and inconspicuous. The most unusual feature of the male’s plumage are the elongated chin feathers, which are raised to form a forward-pointing ‘beard’ during courtship displays, and it is these spectacular and unique displays for which this manakin is best known.

Males gather together in loose aggregations called leks, and perform displays to attract females during an extended breeding season that lasts more than half the year. Each male constructs his own arena or court, a meter-diameter circle on the forest floor actively cleared of leaf litter and bounded by the trunks of several small saplings. Here the male performs his signature display, which consists of jumping rapidly among the court-edge saplings and down to the court floor. With each jump, the male strikes his wrists together over his back, almost too fast to see, and produces a loud percussive snap. A female approaching the lek can result in many males simultaneously vying for her attention, and each male’s rapid series of wingsnaps has the leks sounding like someone has set off strings of firecrackers. These sounds can be heard from some distance away in the forest understory, giving away the position of the lek to observers, and is the reason why Frank Chapman and other early observers of this behavior called the Golden-collared Manakin "the bird that snaps" (1: 478).

The courtship behavior has been the focus of substantial research over the last several decades. High-speed cameras have revealed the millisecond-level details of the displays and the mechanics of the wingsnaps. Anatomical studies have revealed unusual morphological and physiological features that appear to be adaptations for this courtship display. The physiological, endocrinological, and neurological control of these sexual displays have received focused attention from several research groups. This body of work has revealed the complexity of the biology underlying manakin courtship, and revealed these wingsnap displays to be among the most extreme physiological performances in the bird world.

Golden-collared Manakin is very similar to the other three Manacus species in appearance and behavior, differing from each primarily in the color of the male’s collar and belly. They are so similar that for a long time they were all considered subspecies within a single Manacus species, and referred to as the "Bearded Manakin." Although now considered separate species by most authorities, Golden-collared Manakin is known to hybridize with other Manacus where ranges come into contact. In particular, it hybridizes extensively with White-collared Manakin (Manacus candei) where their ranges overlap in Bocas del Toro, Panama. This hybrid zone has received substantial study as it is an unusual case of plumage introgression, where the yellow plumage traits of the male have spread across the hybrid zone into birds with predominantly White-collared Manakin genetic background.

Overall, the focused research on Golden-collared Manakin in Panama over several decades has made it one of the better studied Neotropical birds, but there is still much to learn.

Distribution of the Golden-collared Manakin - Range Map
  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding
Distribution of the Golden-collared Manakin

Recommended Citation

Sly, N. D. (2023). Golden-collared Manakin (Manacus vitellinus), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman and N. D. Sly, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.gocman1.02