The manakins are a family, Pipridae, of unique small suboscine passerine birds. The family contains some 60 species. They are distributed through the American tropics. The name is from Middle Dutch mannekijn meaning ‘little man’.
The genus Tyranneutes comprise the smallest manakins, the genus Antilophia are believed to be the largest. They are compact stubby birds with short tails, broad and rounded wings, and big heads. The bill is short and has a wide gap. Females and first-year males have dull green plumage; most species are sexually dichromatic in their plumage, the males being mostly black with striking colours in patches, and in some species having long, decorative tail or crown feathers or erectile throat feathers. In some species, males from two to four years old have a distinctive subadult plumage.
The syrinx or so-called voicebox is distinctive in manakins, setting them apart from the related families Cotingidae and Tyrannidae. Furthermore, it is so acutely variable within the group that genera and even species can be identified by the syrinx alone, unlike birds of most oscine families. The sounds made are whistles, trills, and buzzes.
The Manakin bird is famous for its so-called tap-dance ‘moonwalk’ along branches of trees. The male tries to attract a female by moving at quite a pace along twigs and branches while keeping an eye on a potential mate. This dance as it were involves incredibly fast movements and composure of the claws as it moves from left to right and visa versa.