Get to Know the Bee Hummingbird, the World’s Smallest Bird

Only found in Cuba, these birds lay their eggs in nests the size of a quarter.

This audio story is brought to you by BirdNote, a partner of the National Audubon Society. BirdNote episodes air daily on public radio stations nationwide.


This is BirdNote.

Would you like to see the world’s smallest bird? Then you’ll need to travel to Cuba.

Once on the island, your best bet for tracking down the tiny wonder is to visit a forest edge hung heavily with vines and bromeliads. There, hovering at the flowers — if you squint hard enough — you’ll find the Bee Hummingbird.

The Bee Hummingbird, which is found only in Cuba, is an absolute miniature, even among hummingbirds. It measures a mere two and a quarter inches long. Bee Hummingbirds are often mistaken for bees. They weigh less than two grams — less than a dime. That’s half the weight of our backyard hummers, like the Ruby-throated or Rufous. The female builds a nest barely an inch across. Her eggs are about the size of a coffee bean.

In flight, the Bee Hummingbird’s tiny wings beat 80 times a second. And during a courtship flight, they beat up to 200 times per second! The male’s entire head and throat shine in fiery pinkish-red, and blazing red feathers point like spikes down the sides of the breast.

A sight to behold!

Writers for BirdNote include Bob Sundstrom, Dennis Paulson, Gordon Orians, Ellen Blackstone, Rick Wright, GrrlScientist, Todd Peterson, and Bryan Pfeiffer.

For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann.

Support for BirdNote comes from Bloomsbury Wildlife, publisher of Antpittas and Gnateaters. This new book is a photographic guide to these elusive bird groups. Available now.



Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. 121909 recorded by Gregory F. Budney.

BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.

Producer: John Kessler

Managing Producer: Jason Saul

Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone

© 2017 Tune In to  September 2018  Narrator: Mary McCann