The Smallest Bird

A few days ago, WC posted his photo of the largest bird – measured by wingspan, at least – in the world. The smallest bird in the world is the Bee Hummingbird, found on Cuba and few surrounding islands, which WC has not seen. The second smallest bird in the Western Hemisphere is the Tropical Parula.

Tropical Parula, Ecuador, 2014

Tropical Parula, Ecuador, 2014

At 6-7 grams in weight and a wingspan of 49-52 cm, this is a tiny little warbler. It’s found in the southern tip of Texas and throughout Central and South America. It’s a bit unusual in that, unlike most wood warblers, it usually stays within a meter or so of the ground. Until fairly recently, it was regarded as a subspecies of the Northern Parula, but genetics work split them into two distinct species. Ornithologists fiddle with the classification of bird species all the time; it keeps birders on their toes.

Most of the world’s very small birds are in Australia; the Tropical Parula is only the 6th or 7th smallest world-wide. But in the Western Hemisphere, it trails only the Bee Hummingbird.

Like the earlier photo of the Wandering Albatross, this photo doesn’t offer much for scale. But in the field, the bird is remarkably tiny. And pretty charming, too.


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