Striking Courtship Displays in the Becard Clade Platypsaris

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As far as we know, becards are socially monogamous. This group includes the five members of the monophyletic Platypsaris clade, nested within Pachyramphus. These five species have white scapular feathers which are usually hidden and whose function has been largely ignored by ornithologists. Because of becards’ conspicuous, bulky nests, comparatively more is known about their breeding biology than about that of many other Neotropical groups, though much remains to be learned on this subject even in becards. Breeding behavior of becards has been considered relatively ordinary, but the displays we report reflect more complexity than previously supposed. We provide evidence that at least four of the five members of the Platypsaris clade (Rose-throated, Pink throated, One-colored, and Crested becards) engage in courtship displays, some of which are dramatic. The normally hidden white scapulars are employed as erectile ‘‘badges’’ in these displays.


2015 by the Wilson Ornithological Society

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The Wilson Journal of Ornithology