[Estacion de Biodiversidad Tiputini, Ecuador] [Kim Bostwick, Ph.D, Curator of Bird & Mammals] As you look at this picture you see a lovely, but fairly simple looking, very normal looking bird, and yet despite that this is one of the most special animals on the planet. The Club-winged Manakin is unique among birds in that it’s the only bird on the planet that has transformed its wing into an instrument so that it can make sounds to court females, and the sounds that it makes are sounds that should not be made by a wing. Birds are singers, just like we use our voices, and like reptiles use their voices, and all mammals and all birds, we are all vocal creatures and so an animal choosing to make a sound with some other part of its body first of all is very weird but second of all, if you know anything about wings, wings are made of feathers and trying to imagine a feather making a sound like this should present a real puzzle. [Copyright 2011 Cornell University]

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The Club-winged Manakin, found in the forests of Ecuador, appears at first glance to be no different than the average bird; but according to researcher Kim Bostwick, it is one of the most unique animals on the planet. Its wings act as instruments, producing a loud, distinctive sound that you would never expect to hear from wings. Most birds are vocalists. How and why does the Club-winged Manakin communicate using its wings?