Birds - The Manakin Does Michael Jackson's Moon Walk

Red-capped Manakin


Manakin Birds

Manakin birds belong to the family of Pipridays, and are about the size of a sparrow, but their many talents are truly unique, as they can do the Michael Jackson’s moon walk. Manakins can be found living in the forests from southern Mexico to northern Argentina.

Spotting them, however, is not always an easy task as they more around very rapidly. They do love attention however, and don’t seem to be afraid of people. Their goal is to attract females. The females and males under a year have dark green plumage, so they blend with the trees. The males are uniquely colored as is often true in nature.

Their many talents include using their wings together behind their backs to scare predators with their unique clap, plus they hum (not unlike the sound of a violin), snap and buzz. Their courtship rituals are spectacular. They are not a monogamous bird, as they enjoy flitting around the forest, bright eyed and showing off. The female raises the babies alone most of the time.



Bird in the Wild

These birds have only been studied by a small number of people and in order to get a video, it required a camera operating at a 1000 frames per second, which is 30 times faster than a camcorder. Kim Bostwick is the researcher that captured their shenanigans on film.

The Manakin knocks its wings together at an amazing 80-107 times per minute, which reached a frequency of an amazing 1,500 cycles per second. No other birds in the wild can match their performance. They live on small fruit and insects, but really don’t have time to hunt. Apparently, they are quite single minded about their purpose in life.

One of the reasons this bird can make all these unusual sounds with their wings is due to the fact that their bones are solid. Most birds have hollow wings. How this bird can move so quickly and fly is still a mystery. Each large feather over the bone is also a bit different, which allows for a variety of sounds.

For instance, their 5th feather rubs against their ridged feather, which is a technique that is similar to using a guitar pick. It is also the strength of his wings that allows him to move back and forth on the branch, which resembles the moon walk. The video on birds is truly entertaining.

Moonwalking Bird HD

The Dancing Bird

Victoria's Riflebird

The Manakin is not the only bird of paradise that does an amazing mating ritual dance to entice the female. There is an Australian bird called Victoria’s Riflebird, named after British Queen Victoria. Several years ago John Young filmed this Paradise Riflebird in the Bunya Mountains Park in Queensland, Australia. The Riflebird is one of four birds of paradise indigenous to that region. They tend to stay in one region, while the females tend to wander.

Victoria's Riflebird - Bird of Paradise

Picture by Harol & Paula Ables
Picture by Harol & Paula Ables | Source

Bird Mating

This bird has a loud call to draw attention to the female. Once he has her attention he begins his lavish display using his velvet black feathers by stretching them straight up on either side of their head, then he sways and bobs putting on his finest show. When the female gets close enough, he puts his wings around her to tap her gently. His head and throat are green and sparkle in the sun, plus his mouth is yellow.

The female is a red-brown color. These birds can also hang upside down with their tail and wing feathers fanned out. This is another bird that is not monogamous. The female raises the young, typically two, in a nest often using python skins. This bird's ostentatious mating dance is extremely entertaining.

Bunya Mountains Park, Queensland, Australia

Marvin Gaye - Let's Get It On live in Montreux

In Conclusion

These are just two examples of bird paradise. There are thousands of species of birds, and each one has their own unique characteristics. Any bird of paradise is beautifully colored. Many birds pair up for life, such as parrots, McCaw’s and so on, but these two magnificent birds seem to be concerned about increasing the bird population of their species, without any of the responsibility of raising baby birds. The females apparently do well raising their babies alone, and this just makes all of nature so interesting to study or simply to enjoy.

© 2012 Pamela Oglesby

More by this Author

Comments 25 comments

kidscrafts profile image

kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

Thank you for all the interesting facts and also the videos!

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

kidscraft, Glad you enjoyed the hub and I appreciate your comments.

CASE1WORKER profile image


Great hub, especially the videos!

always exploring profile image

always exploring 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

The dancing bird was really fun to watch. Very interesting, and Marvin Gaye, one of my favorites. Thank you for sharing

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

case1worker, I'm glad you enjoyed the hub. I loved the videos, which is why I wrote the hub. Thanks for your comments.

Ruby, I love Marvin Gays also and that song seemed to fit the birds lives. I appreciate your comments.

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

I saw a documentary on the manakin and it was so interesting. They showed it dancing and it does a pretty good hip hop. Good video posts of the birds in action (and Marvin's song is cool!).

Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

Wonderful little creatures are they!!! So lovely. Very informative and especially beautiful images. I love the title of this hub. In His Love, Faith Reaper

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

teaches, The love song did seem fitting. I think the birds are really interesting too. Thanks for your comments.

Faith Reaper, I'm glad you enjoyed the hub and I appreciate your comments.

moonlake profile image

moonlake 4 years ago from America

Thanks for sharing your beautiful bird facts and video. Loved the dancing bird. Voted Up. Have a great day.

aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

Voted up, across the board and sharing on my Facebook page. I'm impressed! This was well done and might turn me into a twitcher, if I can ever afford to do it.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

moonlake, I'm glad you enjoyed the dancing birds. Thank you for your comments.

aviannovoice, I appreciate you sharing this hub and for your comments.

breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 4 years ago

The breadth of your interests and knowledge is awesome. This piece is fascinating. Up, interesting and awesome.

mollymeadows profile image

mollymeadows 4 years ago from The Shire

Lol Pamela!! I was dancing along...arms up, turn, slide...

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

BPOP, Thank you for your kind words, so appreciated.

mollymeadowns, He was quite something! Glad you enjoyed the video. Thanks for your comments.

anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 4 years ago

I do love birds but have not heard of these two birds of paradise. The Manakin is quite amazing--moonwalking and all. It must be quite an experience to be able to watch these birds. Thanks for the interesting hub.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Anginwu, I'm glad you enjoyed the video. Thank you for your comments.

suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 4 years ago from Taos, NM

These birds are gorgeous and so fascinating! I have never heard of the manakin bird. And to think they are from Mexico down throught S. America. The birds in this area of the world are so colorful and unusual. The bird video is great. Thanks for an informative and interesting piece.

And, hello up there in Jacksonville!

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

suzettnaples, I'm glad you enjoyed the birds and I appreciate your comments. Hello down there in beautiful Naples!

drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

What colorful birds and what charming dances, Pamela. Thanks for bringing them to us as well as the 'action' videos.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

drbj, You're welcome and I appreciate your comments.

Suelynn profile image

Suelynn 4 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

Pamela99! What a fantastic presentation and totally fascinating to me! I love how you put your hub together and allowed the videos to tell the story and the musical numbers were great! Birds are wonderful to watch and I kept thinking about the irony of the male doing all the work and being beautiful to attract the female - no surprise that the female raises the babies alone! Haha! I speak from personal experience as do many other women. LOL! LOVED this and voting across the board. I look forward to reading more of your hubs. :)

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Suelynn, I am also in that group of women. I'm glad you enjoyed the hub and I appreciate your comments.

Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

How cool is this bird? Very cool! I've tried to moonwalk, the manakin wins. The Marvin Gaye video was a perfect compliment.

Greensleeves Hubs profile image

Greensleeves Hubs 4 years ago from Essex, UK

Pamela, I've seen these dances and displays before on television documentaries in the UK, but they never fail to intrigue or delight. They must be among the most extraordinary coutship displays in nature. Nice to see them collected together by you for others to see.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Sunshine, I loved the video of that bird also and he certainly performs better than I can. Thanks for your comments.

Greensleeves, I found them to be extraordinary also. I appreciate your comments.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby (Pamela99)1,652 Followers
    437 Articles

    All types of animal are very interesting. Many are under attack, but many people also enjoy pets in their homes. I particularly love birds.

    Click to Rate This Article