The blue-backed manakins of the genus Chiroxiphia are apparently unique among birds in the organisation of their courtship displays. They belong to a family (Pipridae) in which many species show a high degree of sexual dimorphism and lek displays are highly developed. In the other manakins that have been studied, as in lek birds of other familes, each male defends and displays on his own court or perch within the general area of the lek; but blue-backed manakin males live in groups which jointly display on a number of perches within their territory. One of the most remarkable aspects of their organisation is that the advertising calls which are a prelude to the courtship display, and the first phase of the courtship display itself, are performed in perfect co-ordination by two males from the group (or, in one species, three or more birds), each of which appears to play an equal part. The highly synchronised duets that are important in the courtship sequence are thus quite different from duets described in other birds, the main function of which is to maintain contact between the members of permanently mated pairs (Thorpe, 1972).
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- Duetting and other synchronised displays of the blue-backed manakins, Chiroxiphia Spp
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