About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Monday, May 21, 2012

What is the smallest North American songbird?

Common Raven, resident in very small numbers.
Common Raven image via Wikipedia
Songbirds or perching birds are called passerines. A passerine is a bird of the order Passeriformes, which contains the most species of birds of the twenty-seven orders of birds on Earth. They represent about 45% of the bird species in Michigan, and nearly three-fifths of all living birds worldwide.

The largest passerine is the Common Raven which can weigh as much as 3 pounds. They can be found across the northern hemisphere. When you hear the variety of noises, such as caws, croaks, and gurgles that the raven produces may not think of it as a songbird, but their wide range of vocalizations for communication is impressive.

Verdin Auriparus_flaviceps. Location: Scottsda...
Verdin image via Wikipedia
The smallest North American passerine is the Verdin, a tiny, active songbird of the arid southwestern United States and northern Mexico, which weighs 0.2 oz.

Hummingbirds are the smallest birds in the world but they are nonpasserines. According to the Birds of Michigan Field Guide by Ted Black nonpasserines are birds that in general have calls instead of songs and can be very large like waterfowl, raptors, gulls, shorebirds and woodpeckers. Some of the smaller nonpasserines are doves, swifts and hummingbirds.

Bee Hummingbird
image via farm1.static.flickr.com
At 2.8–3.5 inches long and weighing 0.1–0.2 oz the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Archilochus colubris is the smallest bird that nests in Michigan.

At 3 inches long and weighing 0.1 oz, the Calliope Hummingbird Stellula calliope is North America's smallest bird. It nests in mountain areas of the northwestern United States and winters in Mexico.

And the Bee Hummingbird Mellisuga helenae which lives in Cuba and Isla de la Juventud is the smallest living bird in the world at length of 2 inches and a weight of 0.063 oz

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