This is a species of wet forest, adjacent clearings and tall second growth. The female lays two brown-speckled white eggs in a shallow cup nest 5–7 m high in a horizontal tree fork. Nest-building, incubation for 18–21 days, and care of the young are undertaken by the female alone, since manakins do not form stable pairs.
The white-ruffed manakin is, like its relatives, a compact short-tailed bird with a heavy hooked bill, dark legs and striking male plumage. It is typically 10 cm long and weighs 12.5 g.
The adult male is mostly glossy blue-black with a white erectile ruff on the throat and sides of the neck. His wings are modified, with a very short outer primary. The male’s call is a thin s-e-e-e-e-e or, in display, a twangy shree-up. The wings are used to make a dull snap like a breaking twig, as with other manakins.
The female and young males are olive-green with a grey throat.
Like other manakins, this species has a fascinating breeding display at a communal lek. 3-4 males one at a time descend in a slow fluttering flight on to a mossy fallen log with tail raised and ruff spread, and then give a little jump.
The white-ruffed manakin feeds low in the trees on fruit and some insects, both plucked from the foliage in flight. It forms loose groups in its breeding areas, but is more solitary in the lowlands, although it may join tanagers and others in mixed-species feeding flocks.
One study in Costa Rica found that the white-ruffed manakin appears to have maintained substantial genetic connectivity despite habitat fragmentation. This suggests that manakins may have no trouble dispersing across non-forest habitat patches.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Corapipo altera". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- "Weak genetic structuring indicates ongoing gene flow across White-ruffed Manakin (Corapipo altera) populations in a highly fragmented Costa Rica landscape." http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10592-007-9463-3?LI=true
- Hilty, Birds of Venezuela, ISBN 0-7136-6418-5
- Stiles and Skutch, A guide to the birds of Costa Rica ISBN 0-8014-9600-4
- Barnett, J. "The Rainforest Home of the White-ruffed Manakin" http://www.birds.cornell.edu/Publications/Birdscope/Spring2007/white_ruffed_manakin.html