MANUCODE, from the French, an abbreviation of Manucodiata, and the Latinized form of the Malay Manukdewata, meaning, says Crawfurd (Malay and Engl. Dictionary, p. 97), the “bird of the gods,” and a name applied for more than two hundred years apparently to birds-of-paradise in general. In the original sense of its inventor, Montbeillard (Hist. nat. oiseaux, iii. 163), Manucode was restricted to the king bird-of-paradise and three allied species; but in English it has curiously been transferred to a small group of species whose relationship to the Paradiseidae has been frequently doubted, and must be considered uncertain. These manucodes have a glossy steel-blue plumage of much beauty, but are distinguished from other birds of similar coloration by the outer and middle toes being united for some distance, and by the extraordinary convolution of the trachea, in the males at least, with which is correlated the loud and clear voice of the birds. The convoluted portion of the trachea lies on the breast, between the skin and the muscles, much as is found in the females of the painted snipes (Rostratula), in the males of the curassows (Cracidae), and in a few other birds, but wholly unknown elsewhere among the Passeres. The manucodes are peculiar to the Papuan sub-region (including therein the peninsula of Cape York), and comprehend, according to R. B. Sharpe (Cat. B. Brit. Museum, iii. 164), two genera, for the first of which, distinguished by the elongated tufts on the head, he adopts R. P. Lesson’s name Phonygama, and for the second, having no tufts, but the feathers of the head crisped, that of Manucodia; and W. A. Forbes (Proc. Zool. Soc. 1882, p. 349) observed that the validity of the separation was confirmed by their tracheal formation. Of Phonygama Sharpe recognizes three species, P. keraudreni (the type) and P. jamesi, both from New Guinea, and P. gouldi, the Australian representative species; but the first two are considered by D. G. Elliot (Ibis. 1878, p. 56) and Count Salvadori (Ornitol. della Papuasia, ii. 510) to be inseparable. There is a greater unanimity in regard to the species of the so-called genus Manucodia proper, of which four are admitted—M. chalybeata or chalybea from north-western New Guinea, M. comriei from the south-eastern part of the same country, M. atra of wide distribution within the Papuan area, and M. jobiensis peculiar to the island which gives it a name. Little is known of the habits of these birds, except that they are, as already mentioned, remarkable for their vocal powers, which, in P. keraudreni, Lesson describes (Voy. de la Coquille, “Zoologie,” i. 638) as enabling them to pass through every note of the gamut. (A. N.)
- Manucodiata was used by M. J. Brisson (Ornithologie, ii. 130) as a generic term equivalent to the Linnaean Paradisea. In 1783 Boddaert, when assigning scientific names to the birds figured by Daubenton, called the subject of one of them (Pl. enlum. 634) Manucodia chalybea, the first word being apparently an accidental curtailment of the name of Brisson’s genus to which he referred it. Nevertheless some writers have taken it as evidence of an intention to found a new genus by that name, and hence the importation of Manucodia into scientific nomenclature, and the English form to correspond.