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North America's Smallest Bird Makes Rare Visit to Nantucket

Tatiana Gettelman / flickr

A wayward hummingbird from the mountains of the western U.S. showed up in a small community garden on Nantucket's Hummock Pond Road on the afternoon of October 19th. The Calliope Hummingbird is North America’s smallest bird.

The hummingbird was discovered on an afternoon field trip of the 3rd Nantucket Birding Festival, and, after giving fleeting views, the tiny bird perched on a small piece of fencing and afforded great views. The rub with immature and female type hummingbirds is attempting to identify them. They are remarkably similar and differ little. Working out their identification is a serious field problem, yet with the amazing digital cameras and lenses available with good photos the actual shape of individual tail feathers and other fine details are readily discerned.

This bird's wingtips at rest extended well beyond the short tail with stubby central tail feathers. It had no rufous on the uppertail coverts and was very small with a little thin bill. That combination alone was enough to conclude that it was indeed the smallest bird in North America a Calliope Hummingbird.

Complete audio of the Weekly Bird Report is posted above. Give it a listen.