10 Smallest Birds in the World (Ranked by Size)

Small bird drinks nectar from a flower

When it comes to the avian world, it’s usually the smallest birds that leave the most lasting impressions. These tiny feathered creatures, found in every corner of the globe, are full of surprises and wonders.

They might be small in size, but they are big in personality and charm. Each one showcases unique behaviors, songs, and colors that are truly fascinating.

This article will go over 10 of the smallest birds in the world. Each of them has their own unique story, full of interesting facts and special traits. So, read on and discover the amazing world of these tiny birds.

What Is the Smallest Bird in the World?

Smallest bird hummingbird hovering and drinking the nectar

Bee Hummingbirds hold the title of the world’s smallest birds. They are native to Cuba and are so small that people often think they are bees, hence the name.

Even among other hummingbirds, they are super tiny, with a total length not exceeding 2.3 inches. Weighing just around 1.6 grams, Bee Hummingbirds are lighter than pennies!

Apart from their size, they are also known for their stunning beauty. Their plumage can display a spectrum of colors, including shades of green, blue, and red, making them look like living jewels.

Moreover, these birds play significant roles in pollination, much like the bees they are often confused with.

10 Smallest Birds in the World

While big birds like eagles and hawks usually grab people’s attention, there’s something uniquely intriguing about the little ones. Now, let’s take a closer look at these tiny wonders.

Here are the top 10 smallest birds in the world:

1. Bee Hummingbird

Bee Hummingbird on a branch
Scientific Name:Mellisuga helenae
Length:2–2.3 in (5–6 cm)
Weight:0.05–0.06 oz (1.6–1.9 g)
Conservation status:Near Threatened

The Bee Hummingbird is the smallest bird you can find. Found only in Cuba, they thrive in various habitats, from rainforests and dry forests to mountain valleys and even rural gardens.

Despite their size, these birds play a big part in maintaining the balance of the ecosystem they live in.

Their fascinating feeding habits help with pollination. These birds are known to spend their entire day in flight, zipping from flower to flower and sipping nectar with their specialized long beaks.

They can stay in place while feeding thanks to their rapid wing movements, which can sometimes be confused with those of bees.

Fun Fact: With a heartbeat that can reach a staggering 1,260 beats per minute, Bee Hummingbirds are also believed to have the second-fastest heartbeat of all animals.

2. Esmeraldas Woodstar

Two Esmeraldas Woodstar birds nesting on a tree
Scientific Name:Chaetocercus berlepschi
Length:2.5 in (6.4 cm)
Weight:Not specified
Conservation status:Vulnerable

The Esmeraldas Woodstar is not only among the smallest birds globally but is also considered the smallest bird in South America. Measuring merely 2.5 inches long, they are just slightly larger than your average paperclip.

These birds are found in the northwestern parts of Ecuador, specifically in the departments of Esmeraldas, Manabí, and Guayas. They thrive in semi-deciduous or evergreen forests with flowering shrubs and trees.

With their bright violet, green, and white feathers, these hummingbirds are truly gorgeous. However, their rarity overshadows their beauty.

Estimates suggest that only around 1,000 to 2,700 individuals remain. This alarming number makes Esmeraldas Woodstars an urgent conservation priority.

3. Calliope Hummingbird

Calliope Hummingbird finding nectar
Scientific Name:Selasphorus calliope
Length:2.8–3.9 in (7–10 cm)
Weight:0.08–0.1 oz (2.3–3.4 g)
Conservation status:Least Concern

The smallest birds found in the United States and Canada are Calliope Hummingbirds.

These hummingbirds measure just about 2.8 inches long and are even smaller than some of the insects they chase. They primarily feed on nectar but are also skilled insect hunters.

Despite their tiny size, these birds have a standout feature that is hard to miss. Males of this species have magenta rays on their throats, making them easily recognizable. They also fall under the category of small birds with long beaks.

Calliope Hummingbirds thrive in meadows and open forests, especially in the chilly Northwestern mountains. They are migratory birds that cover about 5,000 miles each year.

At a birdwatching event in California, our group spent some time observing Calliope Hummingbirds. One thing that stood out was their territorial nature. Even though they’re small, these hummingbirds were quite assertive.

We watched as they confidently chased off larger birds that got too close to their space. It’s fascinating how such tiny birds can be so bold in defending their territory.

4. Costa’s Hummingbird

Costas Hummingbird feeding on flowers
Scientific Name:Calypte costae
Length:3–3.5 in (7.6–9 cm)
Weight:0.08–0.1 oz (2.5–3.5 g)
Conservation status:Least Concern

As small as it is, the Costa’s Hummingbird is impossible to miss due to its striking appearance.

Males, in particular, sport an iridescent purple throat patch that resembles an overgrown mustache, making them stand out in their desert surroundings.

These tiny birds mostly live in the dry regions of the southwestern U.S., western Mexico, and the Baja Peninsula. In these habitats, they drink nectar from a variety of desert plants.

Interestingly, these birds exhibit a unique behavior in which they slow their pulse rates to lower their body temperatures during the night and enter a torpid state.

This adaptation showcases their resilience and allows them to survive in the harsh desert climate.

5. Pale-billed Flowerpecker

Pale billed Flowerpecker perched on a branch
Scientific Name:Dicaeum erythrorhynchos
Length:3.1 in (8 cm)
Weight:0.1–0.2 oz (4–8 g)
Conservation status:Least Concern

The Pale-billed Flowerpecker is a tiny bird found in parts of South Asia. Their distinctive pale and bulky curved bills, which are pinkish in color, are the very reason for their name.

They live mostly in India and its neighboring countries. These flowerpeckers can survive in a variety of habitats, from deep forests to cityscapes, as long as they are not too dry.

Moreover, Pale-billed Flowerpeckers have a diverse diet. They love eating berries from plants like Loranthus and Viscum and sipping nectar from various flowers.

By eating berries, these birds help in seed dispersal, which promotes the development of many different kinds of plants in their habitats.

6. Weebill

Weebill flits on branch of a tree
Scientific Name:Smicrornis brevirostris
Length:3.1–3.5 in (8–9 cm)
Weight:0.2 oz (6 g)
Conservation status:Least Concern

The Weebill is Australia’s smallest bird. With a length spanning only 8 to 9 cm and a weight of about 6 grams, they are incredibly petite and hardly larger than one’s finger.

These little birds have a preference for areas rich in eucalyptus trees, which are abundant across mainland Australia.

Their diet mainly consists of larvae and other small insects, which they skillfully pluck from the outer leaves of treetops.

As for their appearance, Weebills are pretty subtle. Their feathers are a mix of soft gray, olive, and brown colors, which helps them blend in with the trees.

7. Cape Penduline Tit

Cape Penduline Tit sitting on a thin branch
Scientific Name:Anthoscopus minutus
Length:3.1 in (8 cm)
Weight:0.2 oz (8 g)
Conservation status:Least Concern

Found in southern Africa, the Cape Penduline Tit is one of the region’s smallest birds.

These little creatures are spread across countries like Angola, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. They prefer living in areas like dry savannahs and shrublands.

What’s truly fascinating about Cape Penduline Tits are the amazing nests they make. Using soft materials like spider webs, sheep’s wool, and plant fibers, they build their nests meticulously.

Fun Fact: Cape Penduline Tits design their nests with two entrances. One is the actual entrance, while the other is a false entrance that leads to an empty space. This unique design helps keep their eggs and chicks safe by tricking snakes and other predators.

Watch this video to learn more about how this design works and to get a close-up look at their nests:

Highlights Tswalu - Cape Penduline Tit nest with Dylan

8. Goldcrest

Goldcrest feeds a fledgling baby bird
Scientific Name:Regulus regulus
Length:3.3–3.7 in (8.5–9.5 cm)
Weight:0.08–0.1 oz (4.5–7 g)
Conservation status:Least Concern

A Goldcrest is an adorable little bird with a plump body. With their grayish-green feathers and pale white bellies, these birds are quite charming.

Males of this bird can be identified by the characteristic black and yellow stripe on their heads, which has a bright orange center.

Widespread throughout Europe, these birds have a preference for parks, gardens, scrublands, and conifer forests.

Their diet is primarily insect-based, and their slender beaks are perfectly adapted for picking out insects from between pine needles and other tight spaces.

Surprisingly, many Goldcrests are highly migratory, especially those from Scandinavia and nearby regions.

They typically start their journey in late August and continue until early November. By the time spring comes, specifically around March and April, these little explorers prepare to depart once again.

9. Common Firecrest

Common Firecrest in the forest
Scientific Name:Regulus ignicapilla
Length:3.5 in (9 cm)
Weight:0.1–0.2 oz (5–7 g)
Conservation status:Least Concern

The Common Firecrest is like the vibrant siblings of Goldcrests. These tiny birds, with their rounded bodies, measure just 9 cm in length and have a wingspan between 13 and 16 cm.

They look lively and captivating, with bright olive-green bodies and a distinct bronze patch on each shoulder.

Native to Europe and parts of northwestern Africa, Common Firecrests are often found in wooded areas and green spaces.

They are partially migratory, with populations wintering in the south and west of their breeding range in Europe.

When it comes to their diet, these birds have a preference for insects, especially the smaller ones like springtails and aphids.

10. Spotted Pardalote

Spotted Pardalote nesting on a branch
Scientific Name:Pardalotus punctatus
Length:3.1–4 in (8–10 cm)
Weight:0.2 oz (6 g)
Conservation status:Least Concern

Native to Australia, the Spotted Pardalote is a small songbird renowned for its vibrant personality. They are usually found in Australian woodlands and forests, especially where there are eucalyptus trees.

Moreover, these birds are known for their melodious songs and their distinctive spotted plumage that adorns their backs.

Spotted Pardalotes primarily feed on insects and tree sap, which they collect from leaves and bark with their tiny, sharp bills. They are quite the acrobats when foraging, often flipping upside down to reach hidden spots.

Another fascinating aspect of their behavior is their way of making homes. Spotted Pardalotes are cavity nesters.

They love to dig little nest holes in trees and the ground, and sometimes, multiple pairs will share a single nesting spot.

Despite their small size, these birds leave a big impression with their vibrant appearance, lively songs, and unique nesting habits, making them some of Australia’s most beloved little birds.

Frequently Asked Questions

Small bird sitting on a tree branch with green leaves

What Is the Smallest Bird in the United States?

Calliope Hummingbirds are the smallest birds native to the United States. These tiny birds measure just around 2.8 inches in length and weigh a mere 2.3 grams.

These remarkable hummingbirds can be found in western parts of North America, especially during their migratory seasons.

What Is the Smallest Bird That’s Not a Hummingbird?

The smallest bird species not belonging to the hummingbird family is the Pale-billed Flowerpecker. These birds are incredibly tiny, yet they pack a lot of character into their small frames.

They are common sights in India’s gardens and forest areas, where they feed on berries and nectar.

What Kind of Bird Is Smaller Than a Hummingbird?

When people think of small birds, hummingbirds often come to mind, and rightfully so. There are no birds smaller than them, as the smallest birds in the world are Bee Hummingbirds.

These remarkable creatures are so tiny that they can easily perch on the tip of your finger.

What Is the Smallest Bird That Can’t Fly?

Inaccessible Island Rails are the smallest birds that can’t fly. These birds can only be found on Inaccessible Island in the South Atlantic Ocean, and they are about 5 to 6 inches long.

Even though they are flightless, these little birds have adapted to life on land, where they hop and scurry around the island’s rugged terrain.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the smallest birds in the world. Do you have a favorite? Share your thoughts in the comments below. Feel free to ask any questions you may have about these tiny creatures.

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