State College Bird Club
October 28, 2015
State College Bird Club Meeting, 10/28/2015
Meeting location: Foxdale Village. Approximately 32 attendees, one
first-time visitor (the speaker). Diane Bierly presided. Debra Grim
• Minutes of September 23 meeting read.
• Treasurer report: Current balance $1,969.59.
• The reading of the checklist yielded 106 species,
including Rusty Blackbird, Red-head Woodpecker, and few shorebirds or
• Field trip to Bald Eagle State Park will be announced for November.
• Next meeting November 18.
Abigail Barenblitt, "Shaking a tail feather: The courtship behavior of Satin Bowerbirds and Lance-tailed Manakins"
The bowerbirds and manakins are lekking birds. Leks are locations where
male birds perform courtship rituals to attract females. Ruffed Grouse
is an example of a lekking bird in Pennsylvania.
Satin Bowerbirds build elaborate bowers of grass or twigs on the
ground, decorated with preferably blue items. They dance for
approaching females. Bright male plumage may indicate freedom from
parasites. Competition between males takes the form of destroying one
another’s bowers and stealing decorative items. It is not known how
much of the bower building behavior is innate vs. learned, but young
males do practice. A successful male has an attractive bower and
carefully balances his time between attending his bower and searching
for new ornaments. Bowerbirds are somewhat related to catbirds. There
are many species with different plumages and various types of bowers.
Lance-tailed Manakins were observed on an island in Panama, where
Abigail learned that howler monkeys are less charming when they wake
you up at 4 am or defecate on you or your mist nets. The red-capped
blue males maintain a special branch for performing. A subordinate male
supports the performance of the alpha male in an elaborate coordinated
dance that involves slow flights, leap-frogs and swoops that showcase
their fitness. Only the alpha male gets to mate. It is unknown what the
beta male gains from this cooperation, as they are usually not related
and do not often become alpha males in their long lives. The many
species of manakins throughout Latin America are fairly similar.
More information about bowerbirds can be found on the Borgia Lab
website, http://www.life.umd.edu/biology/borgialab/. Also, manakin
research is document on the DuVal Lab website http://bio.fsu.edu/duval/.