The United States is home to many different types of birds, including some that are incredibly tiny! Some of these birds are as small as 3 inches in length and weigh less than a penny! These tiny birds are known for their incredible agility and quick movements. From the tiny hummingbirds to the dainty songbirds, the top 15 smallest birds in the United States are truly a wonder to behold. In this article, we will delve into and learn about these tiny birds found in the USA.
15. Black-Capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)
5 inches long, weighs 13 grams
This small passerine bird is found throughout much of the United States. The black-capped chickadee has a distinctive black cap and bib with white cheeks and a grayish back and wings. These birds are known for their curious and friendly behavior, often approaching humans and taking food straight from their hands. The black-capped chickadee is an incredibly tiny bird, measuring only about 4.5 to 5 inches in length and weighing between 9 and 13 grams!
Black-capped chickadees are omnivorous, and they feed on insects, spiders, berries, and seeds. They have a unique vocalization, consisting of a two-note whistle, with the second note higher pitched than the first. Like other chickadee species, this vocalization is often described as sounding like “fee-bee” or “hey-sweetie”. They can be found in deciduous and mixed woodlands, where they build nests made of plants and other organic materials.
14. Least Flycatcher (Empidonax minimus)
5 inches long, weighs 8-11 grams
The least flycatcher is a small songbird found throughout much of North America. They have a plain olive-gray plumage with a distinctive white eye-ring and a short, straight bill. Least flycatchers grow to be around 5 inches long and weigh around 8 to 11 grams. They are known for their distinctive vocalizations, which consist of a short, sharp “che-bek” or “che-burr” call.
Least flycatchers are insectivores, meaning they feed on a variety of different flying insects, such as flies (as their name suggests) and moths. They are highly active and acrobatic, often perching on extended branches and sallying out to catch insects in mid-air.
During the breeding season, the least flycatcher can be found in deciduous and mixed woodlands. Some of the biggest threats to this bird’s population include habitat loss, degradation, and climate change. However, conservation efforts can help ensure the continued survival of this species.
13. Brown Creeper (Certhia americana)
5 inches long, weighs 6-8 grams
The brown creeper’s range extends throughout much of North America, from Alaska down to Central America. These birds have distinctive brown and white streaked plumage that allows them to blend in with the bark of trees, where they spend most of their time. Brown creepers are tiny birds, growing to only 5 inches long and weighing only 6 to 8 grams, which is about as heavy as a pencil.
This bird has a long, curved beak, and its body is slender and pointed, with a long tail that it uses to brace and balance against tree trunks as it climbs. Brown creepers are insectivores, feeding on small insects and spiders that they find on tree bark. They use their bills to probe into crevices in the bark and extract their prey.
During the breeding season, these birds can be found in mature deciduous and mixed forests, where they build their nests behind flakes of bark on trees.
12. Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis)
4.75 inches long, weighs 10 grams
The Carolina Chickadee is a small bird found in the southeastern United States. It has a distinctive black cap and bib with white cheeks, and its back and wings are grayish-blue. The Carolina chickadee looks very similar to the black-capped chickadee, so they are often mistaken, but the Carolina chickadee’s black cap is slightly less extensive, and its bib is less sharply defined. In terms of size, the Carolina Chickadee measures around 4.75 inches in length and weighs approximately 10 grams.
These birds possess energetic behavior and flit around from branch to branch in search of insects and seeds. They are omnivorous, feeding on a varied diet consisting of insects, spiders, berries, and seeds.
During the breeding season, Carolina chickadees are in deciduous and mixed woodlands, where they build cup-shaped nests made of moss, fur, and other various materials. They are a widespread species throughout most of their range.
11. Ruby-Crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula)
4 inches long, weighs 5-7 grams
The ruby-crowned kinglet is a small songbird living throughout North America, with a range that extends from Alaska to Mexico. They have a plain olive-green plumage with a distinctive white eye-ring and a ruby-red crown on their head. The crown is often hiding from view. These birds are just 4 inches long and weigh just 5 to 7 grams. The ruby-crowned kinglet produces high-pitched, rapid-fire vocalizations.
Ruby-crowned kinglets have a high metabolic rate, so they have to consume large quantities of food (insects) every day. These tiny birds are highly active and acrobatic, often hovering in mid-air and flitting through trees and shrubs in search of prey.
During the breeding season, ruby-crowned kinglets will be in coniferous forests and mixed woodlands, where they build cup-shaped nests.
10. Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea)
4.5 inches long, weighs 6 grams
The blue-gray gnatcatcher is a small songbird living throughout eastern and western North America. These birds have blue-gray feathers on their back and wings, a white belly, and a long, narrow tail. Blue-gray gnatcatchers are only 4.5 inches long and weigh around 6 grams. They possess distinctive vocalizations, which consist of a series of high-pitched nasal notes.
Blue-gray gnatcatchers are highly active and acrobatic, often flitting through trees and shrubs in search of prey. They are insectivores, so they primarily prey on small insects and other invertebrates.
During the breeding season, blue-gray gnatcatchers build cup-shaped nests made of plant fibers, spider webs, and lichens, which are typically located in the fork of a tree or shrub. This bird is in various habitats, including deciduous and coniferous forests, riparian areas, and urban gardens or parks.
9. American Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)
4.3 inches long, weighs 5-7 grams
American bushtits are small, social songbirds found throughout western North America. They have plain grayish-brown plumage, a short tail, and a stubby bill. American bushtits are around 4.3 inches long and weigh a mere 5 to 7 grams. These birds are active and acrobatic foragers. Often flitting quickly through shrubs and trees in search of insects.
American bushtits are highly social birds, living in flocks of up to 50 individuals during the non-breeding season. They build elaborate nests made of spider webs, plant fibers, and moss. Nests appear like hanging sacks and can be up to a foot long.
American bushtits are in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, chaparral, and suburban gardens.
8. Golden-Crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa)
4 inches long, weighs 5-7 grams
The golden-crowned kinglet is a small songbird found throughout North America, with a range that extends from Alaska to Mexico. They have a distinctive golden-yellow crest on their head, bordered by black and white stripes. Their wings and back are olive-green, with a whitish belly and a black tail. Golden-crowned kinglets are 3.5 to 4 inches long and generally weigh 5 to 7 grams.
Golden-crowned kinglets are insectivores, feeding on a diet consisting of small insects, spiders, and other invertebrates. These birds can hover in mid-air and fly quickly through trees and shrubs, where they glean insects from leaves and branches.
During the breeding season, you will find them in coniferous forests and mixed woodlands, where they build cup-shaped nests made of moss, lichens, and spider webs.
7. Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus)
3.1 inches long, weighs 2.5-4 grams
The rufous hummingbird is a tiny migratory hummingbird throughout western North America. They have distinctive reddish-brown feathers on their back and crown, and they have white breasts and bellies. Adult males also have an iridescent orange-red throat patch, which can appear brown or black in certain lighting conditions. On the other hand, females and immature rufous hummingbirds have dull greenish-brown plumage on their back and wings, and a reddish-brown wash on their sides. Rufous hummingbirds are generally around 3.1 inches long, with females slightly larger, and they weigh between 2.5 to 4 grams.
Rufous hummingbirds primarily feed on nectar from flowers, but they also consume small insects. Their long-distance flights and ability to navigate using landmarks and the earth’s magnetic field come into play during migration.
6. Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)
4 inches long, weighs 3-5 grams
Anna’s hummingbird is medium in size hummingbird primarily living along the western coast of the United States. Stretching from Alaska to Baja California. In addition to their natural range, Anna’s hummingbirds are also commonly in urban and suburban areas along the western coast, including in parks, gardens, and even residential areas.
Adult males have a vibrant iridescent pinkish-purple throat and crown, while females and immature birds have a dull green plumage on their back and wings, with a whitish-gray breast and throat. They have relatively short wings and a long, straight bill, which is adapted for feeding on nectar from flowers. Anna’s hummingbirds are about 4 inches long and weigh around 3 to 5 grams.
Artificial feeders attract Anna’s hummingbirds and provide a source of nectar. They visit flowers in people’s yards and it is an opportunistic time to observe them.
5. Broad-Tailed Hummingbird (Selasphorus platycercus) – 3.5 inches
3.5 inches long, weighs 3-4 grams
The broad-tailed hummingbird is in the western United States and Mexico. They have a distinctive metallic green plumage on their back and crown, with a rufous-colored patch on their sides. Adult males also have a metallic pink throat patch, which can appear black in certain lighting conditions. Females and immature birds have a dull green plumage on their back and wings, with a whitish-gray breast and belly. These hummingbirds are approximately 3.5 inches long and weigh between 3 and 4 grams.
Broad-tailed hummingbirds breed in various habitats, including coniferous forests, aspen groves, and mountain meadows.
These small hummingbirds have distinctive high-pitched “zip” or “bee-like” vocalizations, often heard during their intricate courtship displays. They can also hover in place for an extended period, allowing them to feed on nectar from flowers with their long, curved bills. When hovering, these hummingbirds can beat their wings at roughly 50 wingbeats per second!
Like other hummingbirds, they have a high metabolism and require a lot of energy to sustain their rapid wingbeats and active lifestyle. As a result, they can consume up to three times their body weight in nectar per day.
4. Ruby-Throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)
3.5 inches long, weighs 2.5-4 grams
The ruby-throated hummingbird is primarily in the eastern United States. They stretch from the Gulf of Mexico to southern Canada.
The males possess a distinctive ruby-colored throat patch. The patch can appear black in certain lighting conditions. Females and immature birds have dull green plumage on their backs and wings, with white breasts and bellies. These tiny hummingbirds are only 3 to 3.5 inches long and weigh 2.5 to 4 grams.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds breed in a variety of habitats, including deciduous forests, orchards, and gardens. They build nests made of plant fibers and spider webs in trees and shrubs, often near a source of water.
3. Black-Chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri)
3.5 inches long, weighs 3 grams
The black-chinned hummingbird is a small hummingbird that is primarily found in the western United States and northern Mexico. These tiny hummingbirds breed in a wide range of habitats, including desert scrub, oak woodlands, and mountain forests. In the winter, they typically migrate to Mexico.
Adult male black-chinned hummingbirds have a distinctive black chin (hence their name), which is surrounded by iridescent purple feathers on their throat. They also have a metallic green back and crown, with a white breast and belly. Females and immature birds have a dull green plumage on their back and wings, with a whitish-gray breast and throat. These hummingbirds are only 3.5 inches long and weigh roughly 3 to 3.5 grams.
Black-chinned hummingbirds primarily feed on nectar from flowers, but they also consume small insects and spiders for protein.
2. Costa’s Hummingbird (Calypte costae)
3.5 inches long, weighs 2.5-4 grams
Costa’s hummingbird is a small bird with a distinctive physical appearance. They have a thin body, with long, slender wings and a relatively short, straight bill. Adult males have a bright purple crown and throat, which gives them a striking appearance, while females have a green crown and a white throat with speckles. They have iridescent green plumage on their back and wings, which can appear brownish in low light. Their tails are relatively short and square-tipped, and their feet and legs are small and weakly muscled, just like many other types of hummingbirds. Costa’s hummingbirds are only 3.5 inches long and weigh about 2.5 to 4 grams.
Costa’s hummingbirds have a high metabolism and hover in mid-air and fly backward. Their powerful wing muscles and special shoulder joints facilitate this. They also have a long, thin tongue which they use to extract nectar from flowers.
1. Calliope Hummingbird (Selasphorus calliope)
3 inches long, weighs 2.5 grams
The smallest bird in the United States is the calliope hummingbird. Adult males of this species have a striking appearance, with an iridescent purple-pink gorget (throat patch) and a white breast and belly. They also have a distinctive calliope-shaped tail, with white tips bordering dark feathers. Females and juveniles, on the other hand, have dull green plumage on their back and wings, with a whitish-gray breast and throat. These tiny hummingbirds are just 3 inches long and weigh around 2.5 to 3 grams.
Calliope hummingbirds primarily feed on nectar from flowers, but they also consume small insects and spiders for protein. They are also known for their territorial behavior, with males defending feeding territories and displaying courtship behaviors to attract mates.
Summary of the Top 15 Tiniest Birds Found in the United States
|1||Calliope Hummingbird||3 inches long, weighs 2.5 grams|
|2||Costa’s Hummingbird||3.5 inches long, weighs 2.5-4 grams|
|3||Black-Chinned Hummingbird||3.5 inches long, weighs 3 grams|
|4||Ruby-Throated Hummingbird||3.5 inches long, weighs 2.5-4 grams|
|5||Broad-Tailed Hummingbird||3.5 inches long, weighs 3-4 grams|
|6||Anna’s Hummingbird||4 inches long, weighs 3-5 grams|
|7||Rufous Hummingbird||3.1 inches long, weighs 2.5-4 grams|
|8||Golden-Crowned Kinglet||4 inches long, weighs 5-7 grams|
|9||American Bushtit||4.3 inches long, weighs 5-7 grams|
|10||Blue-Gray Gnat-Catcher||4.5 inches long, weighs 6 grams|
|11||Ruby-Crowned Kinglet||4 inches long, weighs 5-7 grams|
|12||Carolina Chickadee||4.75 inches long, weighs 10 grams|
|13||Brown Creeper||5 inches long, weighs 6-8 grams|
|14||Least Flycatcher||5 inches long, weighs 8-11 grams|
|15||Black-Capped Chickadee||5 inches long, weighs 13 grams|
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Rob Palmer Photography/Shutterstock.com
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