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Capuchinbirds

A herd of nervous cattle? A distant motorboat?
© Eddie Crimmins View Large

The peace of the vast Guyanan jungle is abruptly broken with the dawn chorus of male Capuchinbirds, one of the most bizarre birds in South America. The singing male bows forward, then suddenly stretches to his full length, raising a monk-like cowl of feathers around his naked blue-gray head. The unmistakable noise attracts female Capuchinbirds, which jostle each other ruthlessly in the quest to get close to the studliest of the displaying males. The alpha male with the best singing technique will be the only one to mate. 

Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®
Capuchinbirds 

Written by Rick Wright

This is BirdNote.

[Insect sounds, then Capuchinbird calls] 

The peace of the vast Guyanan jungle is abruptly broken. 

[Capuchinbird calls, throughout]

A herd of nervous cattle? A distant motorboat? The civilizing roar of chainsaws? It’s the dawn chorus of male Capuchinbirds, one of the most bizarre members - of one of the most bizarre bird families - in South America: the cotingas. 

Named for their tawny cinnamon plumage, with a prominent neck ruff and bald head, Capuchinbirds gather in the treetops to display each morning and evening. The singing male bows forward, then suddenly stretches to his full length, raising a monk-like cowl of feathers around his naked blue-gray head. 

The display grounds, or leks, are used over and over, year after year. Some stands of ancient trees may have witnessed the spectacle for centuries. The unmistakable, apparently irresistible noise attracts the female Capuchinbirds, which jostle each other ruthlessly in the quest to get close to the studliest of the displaying males. That alpha male with the best singing technique will be the only one to mate. 

For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann. 

###

Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Capuchinbird [117248] by Curtis A. Marantz. Capuchinbird [134651] by Cullen K. Hanks.
BirdNote's theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Dominic Black

© 2016 Tune In to Nature.org    January 2016/2018   Narrator: Mary McCann

ID#  CAPU-01-2016-01-04      CAPU-01

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