photo by Marcel Holyoak (Flickr CC)

I stumbled upon this amazing video while ‘YouTubing’ last night in search of funny and fascinating animal clips.

After watching a few old favorites including the stylish interior decorating skills of the bowerbird and the lyrebird, which can imitate all the other birds in the forest as well as camera noises, chainsaws and car alarms with near perfection, I found a story about a bird that dances like Michael Jackson. In my opinion, he dances more like James brown than MJ, shuffling back and forth and sliding sideways down the branch, but far be it from me to quibble over such details.

The manakin bird is a jungle dwelling native of South and Central America, which moves so fast you need a specialized high speed video camera just to see what it’s doing. When viewed through a normal camera, the manakin just looks like it’s bouncing around from branch to branch at lightning speed. Slow it down and it can be seen dancing complicated moves to accompany its interesting clicks and whistles.


Manakins, small, sparrow-sized birds that abound in many tropical forests in South and Central America. There are about 40 kinds, about half of which use their wings and bodies to make a dizzying array of buzzes, snaps, and hums. It is almost always the males that make the noises during elaborate courtship displays designed to entice a female or defend territory.

Check out the following video clip from the PBS Nature documentary Deep Jungle – New Frontiers. For photos of the manakin bird see this spread in National Geographic.