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 recorded.


•    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 ducks.
•    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, Also, manakin research is document on the DuVal Lab website