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A photo of a Blue-backed Manakin (Chiroxiphia pareola), male
Blue-backed Manakin, Male

Blue-backed Manakin

Chiroxiphia pareola

The blue-backed manakin, Chiroxiphia pareola, is a diminutive and vibrant passerine, a member of the Pipridae family. Males are resplendent with black plumage, a striking blue dorsum, and a crown that is either red or yellow depending on the region. Females and juveniles present a more subdued olive-green attire with paler underparts. This species measures approximately 13 centimeters in length and weighs around 19 grams.

Identification Tips

To identify the male blue-backed manakin, look for its black body contrasted with a bright blue back and pale orange legs. The crown color varies by region, typically red but yellow in some Amazonian subspecies. Females are less conspicuous with their olive-green upperparts and paler olive underparts. Juvenile males resemble females but begin to show a red cap and hints of blue on the back as they mature. The Tobago subspecies, C. p. atlantica, is larger with more extensive red and blue plumage.


The blue-backed manakin favors dry and moist deciduous forests, steering clear of evergreen rainforests. It thrives in a variety of wooded environments across its broad geographic range.


This species is widely distributed across tropical South America, from Colombia and Tobago down to southeastern Brazil. It is notably absent from the northwestern Amazon Basin. A separate population is found along a coastal strip in southeast Brazil.


The blue-backed manakin is renowned for its cooperative lekking behavior, a breeding display where males perform a synchronized dance on a bare stick to woo females. This display is characterized by a series of jumps and twirls, accompanied by a buzzing call. The female is solely responsible for nest-building and incubation duties.

Song & Calls

In addition to the buzzing song associated with its display, the blue-backed manakin communicates with a variety of calls, including a distinctive whee-whee-CHUP, which can be synchronized between two males.


During the breeding season, males engage in elaborate displays to attract females. The female constructs a twig nest in a tree, where she lays two brown-mottled white eggs and incubates them for about 20 days without male assistance.

Similar Species

The blue-backed manakin can be confused with the lance-tailed manakin, Chiroxiphia lanceolata, which has elongated central tail feathers and a brighter blue back. The lance-tailed manakin is found further north, from northern Venezuela to Costa Rica.

Diet and Feeding

These birds primarily consume fruit, supplemented by occasional insects, foraging in the forest understory.

Conservation Status

With its extensive range and presumed large population, the blue-backed manakin is classified as "Least Concern" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The population is believed to be stable, with no immediate threats to its conservation status.

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Blue-backed Manakins on Birda

A map showing the sighting location
David Cork
15 Mar 2023 - 11:28am
Trinidad and Tobago

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