The birds that get all the attention are usually the flashiest, like the birds of paradise, or the toughest, like hawks and eagles. And owls seem to be a universal favorite. But what about the itty bitty birds, so small you almost think you imagined them when they flit by? These tiny species deserve a little attention too. Meet some of the world's smallest bird species!

Red-cheeked cordon-bleu

red-cheeked cordon-bleu

Photo: /Shutterstock

This colorful bird is a species of African finch with sky blue feathers and males have a spot of red on their cheeks that make them look like they are perpetually blushing. Individuals only grow to be about five inches in length, and weighs only about .35 ounces on average. That's roughly the weight of just three pennies! This species can be found in the wild in central and eastern Africa but is also one of the most popular exotic finch species in the pet trade.

Verdin

verdin bird

Photo: /Shutterstock

With the verdin, we move from blue to yellow, and from Africa to the southwest United States and Mexico. This small bird is a species of penduline tit, and is only about 4.5 inches long when fully grown. It is second only to the 4.3-inch long American bushtit as the smallest of the passerines on the continent. The verdin can be spotted foraging insects among desert scrub plants, or snagging a little dried sugar from hummingbird feeders every once in awhile.

Lesser goldfinch

lesser goldfinch

Photo: /Shutterstock

The lesser goldfinch is the smallest North American finch of the Spinus genus, and it may very well be the smallest true finch in the entire world, growing to just 3.5 to 4.7 inches in length on average. The Andean siskin may beat it by a feather for the title, though, as it comes in at an average of 3.7 to 4.3 inches in length. Still, the goldfinch is truly miniscule. It weighs only around 0.28 to 0.41 ounces.

Goldcrest

goldcrest

Photo: OiseauxvendeeWikipedia

Who says you have to be big to be king? The goldcrest's scientific name is Regulus regulus, and regulus means "prince, little king". This species is in the kinglet family, and is the smallest of all the birds in Europe. It measures only about 3.3–3.7 inches in length, and weights a miniscule 0.16–0.25 ounces. The species may be small but it is mighty and doesn't mess around when it comes to raising young. As many as 10-12 eggs will be incubated at once, and sometimes a female will have two broods a season! Populating the kingdom is clearly a priority for this little bird.  

goldcrest

Photo: /Shutterstock

Bee Hummingbird

bee hummingbird

Photo: /Shutterstock

The goldcrest may be the smallest bird in Europe but the smallest bird in the world is the bee hummingbird. It is only 2-2.4 inches long (barely larger than a bee, hence its name) and weights a light 0.056–0.071 ounces. That's less than the weight of a single penny. They make nests of cobwebs and lichen where they incubate eggs no bigger than peas. The bee hummingbird is native to Cuba and is only rarely spotted on other nearby islands. Though it is a tiny miracle among birds, it is listed as near threatened due to habitat loss as forests are converted to farmland. The species is in need of conservation efforts to improve population numbers.

Willow tit

willow tit

Photo: Francis C. Franklin/Wikipedia

Despite it's small size, the willow tit likes cold weather. It is found in sub-arctic Europe and northern Asia. It is a diminutive 4.5 inches long on average, and a weight of 0.31-0.38 ounces, which is about the same size as its neighbor the marsh tit. In fact, they look almost exactly alike as well. However, as soon as they open their mouths, a birder can tell them apart as the two have very different vocalizations.

Spotted pardalote

spotted pardalote

Photo: JJ Harrison/Wikipedia

This species is small but flashy, with plumage of amazing colors and patterns. The white spots can be somewhat to credit for its nickname, the diamondbird. Found in eastern and southern Australia in eucalyptus forests, it is one of the continent's smallest bird species at only 3.1-3.9 inches in length. Sadly, this beautiful bird species is facing a decline due to habitat loss to clearing of it's preferred forest habitat for human uses such as sheep-grazing or urban development.

Weebill

weebill

Photo: Tom Tarrant/Wikipedia

This species has a wee bill (which is the source of it's name) and a wee body to match! The weebill only grows to be about 3-3.5 inches long, and it beats out the spotted pardalote as Australia's smallest bird species. This small bird species travels in small flocks and lives in most any wooded area, though they love eucalyptus forests the most.

Costa's hummingbird

costas hummingbird

Photo: Alan D. Wilson/Wikipedia

We couldn't end this without taking another look at adorably tiny hummingbirds. The Costa's hummingbird is native to North America's southwest and it flourishes in the desert setting. It grows to only 3-3.5 inches long, weighs only 0.1 ounces on average, and is one of the smaller hummingbird species. The male has a brilliant purple plumage across its head, and is a flashy little jewel among all the tan and beige of the desert.

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Jaymi Heimbuch ( @jaymiheimbuch ) focuses on wildlife conservation and animal news from her home base in San Francisco.