White-crowned Manakin Dixiphia pipra

Guy M. Kirwan, David Snow, and Andrew J. Spencer
Version: 2.0 — Published April 2, 2020


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Especially in Amazonia, the species will share regular bathing sites with other piprids, e.g., at Cristalino Jungle Lodge, Mato Grosso, Brazil, with Snow-capped Manakin (Lepidothrix nattereri), Red-headed Manakin (Ceratopipra rubrocapilla), and Blue-backed Manakin (Chiroxiphia pareola) (1). At least in the breeding season, males seem to depend on a single bathing sites, whereas the wider-ranging females (see Dispersal and Site Fidelity ) may use several such sites (67).

Sexual Behavior

Male displays usually, but not always, at ‘exploded’ or dispersed leks (77, 78), on slender low branches (including vines), all of them thin, horizontal and largely leafless, from which it makes short stereotyped flights, often with the crown feathers spread outwards. Detailed observations of these displays are available for only three of the described subspecies, the nominate (in Guyana) (77), D. p. coracina (in eastern Ecuador) (79), and D. p. cephaleucos (in southeastern Brazil) (74). Dispersed leks are typically separated by a mean distance of 68 m (range 41–113 m) in Brazil (74), and relatively open areas of forest are generally favored (77, 74). Display perches are generally sited 2–7 m above ground and are generally close to wet ground, whilst each male occupies a territory of between 30 × 17 m and 40 × 38 m while displaying (74). In southeastern Brazil, most males are neither in visual nor auditory contact with neighboring males, which is not the norm in dispersed lek species, wherein males are typically in vocal contact. Each territory (court) can be visited by adult males, young males, and females. In southeast Brazil, display ‘tails off’ to basically nothing by 09.00 hrs (74). From eastern Ecuador, Loiselle et al. (79) reported that the species favors highly dissected drainages as lek sites, and that the number of males per lek varies from one to seven (versus 3–4, plus single display sites, in southeast Brazil 74). In the latter region, some males, especially those in non-adult plumage, also visit what are termed ‘collective display sites’, 30 m in diameter, around a centrally located curved vine situated close to individual display sites, with up to ten birds, most of them definitely males, recorded visiting these sites over the course of a single day (74).

The displays of this species had been considered to be rather simple, compared to some other Pipridae (77, 42), but the study by Castro-Astor et al. (74) in eastern Brazil proved otherwise, describing 11 different facets, the final four of which have been observed only at collective display sites, and all but the jump display only by non-adult males. In each of these, one male displays on the central vine, surrounded by others performing turning-around or to-and-fro flight displays. Displays are performed asynchronously and each male’s display on the central vine lasts just 9–40 seconds (74).

Turning-around display. Performed mainly by non-adult males, both at individual display sites and at collective display sites. The male lands and immediately starts to repeatedly jump c. 1 cm, turning around rapidly on the perch, and raising the wings c. 45°, before flying away.

To-and-fro flights. Given commonly by males of all ages, which fly between adjacent perches at the same height above ground, repeating the sequence many times, and often performs the turning-around display on landing. The wings usually make a soft noise during these flights.

Swoop down below. This display is also performed by males of all ages. In flying between perches, especially those that are further apart, the male sometimes comes in to land by swooping down below the level of the perch, then up and down onto it, thus describing a shallow S-curve.

Butterfly flight. Should a female approach a display site, the male often circles her using a slow flapping flight during which the wingbeats are audible. Should the female depart to another perch, the male follows, still using the ‘butterfly’ flight. Performed by males of all ages.

About-face. This involves the male in a rapid 180° turn without lateral movement along the perch. As with Pipra species, about-faces are common in the present species.

Frenzied-flutter. Castro-Astor et al. (74) observed this display just twice: a brief fluttering flight with the bird’s feet sliding along the display perch, given immediately on landing, and as in Golden-headed Manakin (Ceratopipra erythrocephala), Round-tailed Manakin (C. chloromeros), and Red-headed Manakin (C. rubrocapilla), presumably designed to simulate copulation.

Hover. A display that appears to signify agitation, as the male utters the whistle call while moving between adjacent perches, before hovering in front of another bird giving a trembling whistle.

The rest of the displays described by Castro-Astor et al. (74) were as follows, all of which were only witnessed at collective display sites.

Jump display. Holding the body perpendicular to the perch, the male performs a highly variable series of low jumps (a rapid lateral movement only slightly above the perch, with the wings opened 15°), high jumps (a high, almost looping movement with the wings opened 45°) and about-faces in various directions before flying away.

Somersault. A male lands silently on the perch in silence, then low jumps forward, high jumps backward, high jumps backward turning around in the air, then flies below the line of the perch prior to landing on it.

Step forward and high jump backward. Again, a male lands silently on the vine, is still for a few seconds then looks left, before low jumping backward, stepping forward, high jumping backward, looking left again, stepping forward, high jumping backward, looking left, low jumping forward, and high jumping backward, before finally leaving the perch.

Clockwise and counter-clockwise high jump. This display commences in exactly the same way as the previous one. The bird turns in the opposite direction, high jumps forward, high jumps counter-clockwise, and lands in the same place, high jumps three times forward in sequence, high jumps clockwise, and lands in the same place, high jumps backward in a rapid swoop below the perch and then lands on it, in the process performing an inverted S-curve, and then finally departs.

Social and Interspecific Behavior

Like other Pipridae that have been studied in eastern Ecuador, Loiselle et al. (80) found that males displaying at leks were not especially closely related, contra the suggestion made by Castro-Astor et al. (74) based on their work in southeastern Brazil. Castro-Astor et al. (74) observed White-crowned Manakins visiting the leks of several other manakin species, especially White-bearded Manakin (Manacus manacus), and also observed the species performing hover displays during interactions with Swallow-tailed (or Blue) Manakin (Chiroxiphia caudata) and Red-headed Manakin (Ceratopipra rubrocapilla).


No information (65).

Recommended Citation

Kirwan, G. M., D. Snow, and A. J. Spencer (2020). White-crowned Manakin (Dixiphia pipra), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman, B. K. Keeney, and T. S. Schulenberg, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.whcman2.02