Do you want to learn about the SMALLEST birds found in North America?
Well, you have come to the right place. 🙂
Below, you are going to learn about the tiniest birds around. Incredibly, most of these birds weigh less than an ounce (28 grams)! To put that into perspective, a pencil weighs roughly an ounce.
30 SMALL Birds That Live in North America:
#1. Downy Woodpecker
- Dryobates pubescens
- Length: 5.5 to 7.1 in / 14 to 18 cm
- Weight: 0.71 to 1.16 oz / 20 to 33 g
Downy Woodpeckers are the smallest woodpecker found in North America!
You probably recognize them, as they are seen in many yards visiting bird feeders.
Downy Woodpecker Range Map
This woodpecker species is easy to attract. The best foods to use are suet, sunflower seeds, and peanuts (including peanut butter). You may even spot them drinking sugar water from your hummingbird feeders! If you use suet products, make sure to use a specialized suet bird feeder.
Once you know what to listen for, my guess is that you will start hearing Downy Woodpeckers everywhere you go. Their calls resemble a high-pitched whinnying sound that descends in pitch towards the end.
And if you’re really good, you can try to identify this species by how they drum on trees, which they do when looking for a mate or establishing a territory. The drumming is so fast it almost sounds like one uninterrupted sound!
Press PLAY above to hear a Downy Woodpecker!
#2. American Goldfinch
- Spinus tristis
- Length: 4.3–5.5 in / 11–14 cm
- Weight: 0.39–0.71 oz / 11–20 g
These colorful and small birds are common in North America.
And the best news is they are relatively easy to attract to your backyard.
American Goldfinches love feeding on sunflower seeds and Nyjer seeds. It’s helpful to include bird feeders specially designed for goldfinches. These small birds are easily scared off by larger “bullies.” They will appreciate having places that only they can use!
American Goldfinch Range Map
American Goldfinches are strict vegetarians. Their diet is exclusively made of seeds with no insects, which is rare in the bird world. Because of their diet, American Goldfinches breed later than other birds. They wait until June or July, when most plants are in full seed production, ensuring there is enough food for them to feed their babies.
To identify them by sound, listen for a pretty series of musical trills and warbles.
#3. House Sparrow
- Passer domesticus
- Length: 6.3 in / 16 cm
- Weight: 0.85 to 1.39 oz / 24 to 39.5 g
House Sparrows are an invasive species that originated from the Middle East. But now they are one of the most widespread small birds in North America (and the world)!
Range Map – House Sparrow
House Sparrows owe their success to their ability to adapt and live near humans. Because of this, they are almost always found in urban and suburban areas.
One adaptation that sets them apart is their ability to eat grains, which most birds don’t consume. For example, House Sparrows are usually the birds you see at amusement parks and sporting events eating pretzels and popcorn.
House Sparrows can be heard across the entire planet. Pay attention the next time you’re watching the news in another country. Listen for a simple song that includes lots of “cheep” notes.
#4. Song Sparrow
- Melospiza melodia
- Length: 4.3 to 7.1 in / 11 to 18 cm
- Weight: ~ 1.1 oz / 32 g
These small birds are common in North America, especially in wet & shrubby open areas.
Song Sparrow Range Map
But sparrows, in general, are difficult to identify due to their abundance and how similar they all tend to look. Until you take a closer look, they all appear “small and brown.”
The easiest way to confirm you have seen a Song Sparrow is to listen for their beautiful songs. The most common one they sing, which you can listen to below, consists of three short notes followed by a pretty trill. The song varies depending on location and the individual bird.
#5. House Wren
- Troglodytes aedon
- Length: 4.3 to 5.1 in / 11 to 13 cm
- Weight: 0.35 to 0.42 oz / 10 to 12 g
The House Wren is a common small bird found in North America.
Even though they rarely visit bird feeders, they are often seen zipping through backyards while hunting insects. A great way to draw these wrens to your yard is to create brush piles, which offer cover and places for insects to gather.
House Wren Range Map
House Wrens are commonly encountered by people when their nests are found in odd places. For example, as a kid, we found a nest in a clothespin bag hanging outside. Before my mom could access her clothespins, she had to wait until the wrens had raised their young and abandoned the twig nest! Other weird spots for nests include boots, cans, or boxes.
One of the best ways to locate a House Wren is to listen for their distinctive song. The best way to describe it is a beautiful, energetic, flutelike melody consisting of rapid squeaky chatters and rattles.
#6. White-breasted Nuthatch
- Sitta carolinensis
- Length: 6.1 in / 15.5 cm
- Weight: 0.63–1.06 oz / 18–30 g
White-breasted Nuthatches are compact birds with no neck, a short tail, and a long pointy bill. Color-wise, they have distinctive white cheeks, chest, and a blue-gray back.
White-breasted Nuthatch Range Map
Look for these small birds in North America in deciduous forests. But they adapt well to the presence of humans and are often seen at parks, cemeteries, and wooded yards visiting bird feeders.
To attract nuthatches, use sunflower seeds, peanuts, suet, safflower seeds, and mealworms. Choose high-quality food and avoid mixes containing milo or other grains, which most songbirds won’t eat.
These birds are incredibly vocal AND make distinctive noises that are relatively easy to identify! You are most likely to hear a “yank” call, which is given at any time of year. This loud and distinctive noise is often repeated several times in a row. (Press PLAY to listen below)
#7. House Finch
- Haemorhous mexicanus
- Length: 5 to 6 in / 12.5 to 15 cm
- Weight: 0.56 to .94 oz / 16 to 27 g
It’s common to see these small birds in North America near people. Look for House Finches around buildings, backyards, parks, and other urban and suburban areas.
House Finch Range Map
House Finches are often the first birds to discover new bird feeders. These birds are intensely curious and rarely travel alone, so their arrival often helps other birds find your feeders, too! I see them eating sunflower seeds and safflower seeds the most in my backyard.
House Finches have a pleasant song, which can be heard year-round. Listen below to a series of jumbled, warbled notes.
#8. Black-capped Chickadee
- Poecile atricapillus
- Length: 4.7–5.9 in / 12–15 cm
- Weight: 0.32–0.49 oz / 9–14 g
Black-capped Chickadees are one of the most beloved small birds in North America, and it’s easy to see why!
These birds are often described as “cute,” as they are tiny, with an oversized head with a black cap and bib. Look for them in open deciduous forests, thickets, and cottonwood groves. They also adapt easily to the presence of people and are common to see in backyards and parks.
Black-capped Chickadee Range Map
Black-capped Chickadees are easy to attract to bird feeders! In fact, once you set up a new bird feeder, they will likely be one of the first birds to visit, as they are curious about anything new in their territory. The best foods to use include sunflower, peanuts, and suet. Their small size and athletic ability mean these birds can use just about any feeder!
- RELATED: 7 Best Bird Feeders For SMALL Birds In MY Backyard (Perfect for chickadees)
These birds are extremely vocal, and you should have no problem hearing one. And luckily, their vocalizations are unique and relatively easy to identify. Listen below to a song with a simple 2 or 3-note whistle, which sounds like it’s saying “fee-bee” or “hey sweetie.”
Black-capped Chickadees also make a distinctive “chickadee-dee-dee” call. And yes, it sounds like they are saying their name! Interestingly, when alarmed, they add more “dee” notes at the end of the call.
#9. Dark-eyed Junco
- Junco hyemalis
- Length: 5.1 to 6.9 in / 13 to 17.5 cm
- Weight: 0.63 to 1.06 oz / 18 to 30 g
Dark-eyed Juncos are one of the most common small birds in North America. You can easily identify them by how smooth their feathers look. Or look for a white flash from their tail feathers as they fly away.
Dark-eyed Junco Range Map
This species is found in pine and mixed-coniferous forests when they breed, but in winter, they are seen in fields, parks, woodlands, and backyards. Dark-eyed Juncos have earned the nickname “Snowbirds” or “Winter birds” because they only appear in winter in many parts of their range.
Dark-eyed Juncos like to visit bird feeders, but ONLY ON THE GROUND, where they consume fallen seeds.
Males sing a two-second loud, trilling song that can carry hundreds of feet away. In addition, both sexes also sing softer songs that are a mixture of warbles, trills, and whistles.
#10. Pine Siskin
- Spinus pinus
- Length: 4.3–5.5 in / 11–14 cm
- Weight: 0.42–0.63 oz / 12–18 g
Pine Siskins are typically found in North America in mixed evergreen or deciduous forests, but they will move to a new place in search of food, like weedy fields, backyards, or gardens.
These energetic birds can be seen visiting bird feeders during the winter. They prefer to eat smaller seeds without tough shells, such as sunflower or Nyjer seeds.
Pine Siskin Range Map
These small birds are very social and search for food in flocks while chirping nonstop to each other. They don’t even stop chattering when flying!
#11. White-crowned Sparrow
- Zonotrichia leucophrys
- Length: 5.9-6.3 in (15-16 cm)
- Weight: 0.9-1.0 oz (25-28 g)
During the breeding season, White-crowned Sparrows are found in shrubbery habitats with open grassy areas. In winter, they prefer weedy fields, thickets, and backyards.
White-crowned Sparrow Range Map
If you want to attract these small birds to your feeding station, use sunflower seeds. Just make sure the food is placed on the ground, as they won’t fly up to feeders. And having a brush pile will entice them to stay by giving them places to hide and feel safe.
White-crowned Sparrows are known for their long migration journeys. This sparrow has been known to travel over 300 miles (483 km) in one night!
Males primarily sing, but on occasion, so will females. Their song lasts only a few seconds. Listen below:
#12. White-throated Sparrow
- Zonotrichia albicollis
- Length: 5.9 to 7.5 in / 15 to 19 cm
- Weight: 0.78 to 1.13 oz / 22 to 32 g
Look for these small birds in North America along the edge of forests. They enjoy scratching at the ground under leaves or picking leaves up and moving them out of the way with their bill.
White-throated Sparrow Range Map
White-throated Sparrows readily visit bird feeders. You can attract them by offering sunflower seeds or millet and making sure some of the food ends up on the ground, as they won’t fly up to feeders. And having a place for them to hide and find shelter will entice them to stay.
White-throated Sparrows sing a high-pitched whistle that is easy to learn. Just listen for “Oh-sweet-Canada-Canada.”
#13. Red-breasted Nuthatch
- Sitta canadensis
- Length: 4.5 in (11 cm)
- Weight: 0.35 oz (9.9 g)
Red-breasted Nuthatches are active little songbirds in North America that have beautiful coloring. Look for compact birds with almost no neck and a short tail.
These small birds breed in northern North America, the western mountains, and the upper northeast. But during winter, they can truly show up almost anywhere. These birds travel where needed to make sure they have enough food. In some years, they have been seen as far south as the Gulf of Mexico and Northern Mexico!
Red-breasted Nuthatch Range Map
Red-breasted Nuthatches are mostly found in North America in coniferous forests. Their preferred habitat contrasts sharply with White-breasted Nuthatches, who prefer living in deciduous forests.
These small birds make a fast series of nasally “yank-yank-yank” sounds, which have been compared to the sound that a toy tin horn makes. These calls are typically made by males who are looking for a mate.
#14. Carolina Wren
- Thryothorus ludovicianus
- Length: 4.9 to 5.5 in / 12.5 to 14 cm
- Weight: 0.63 to 0.81 oz / 18 to 23 g
Carolina Wrens are a colorful reddish-brown with a distinct white throat and eye line. The edges of their wings and tails are darkly barred, and the bill is long and thin. Both males and females appear similar.
Even though these small birds are common in eastern North America, due to their secretive nature, they can be hard to see. Look for them in shrubby and bushy areas that provide lots of hiding places.
Carolina Wren Range Map
One of the BEST ways to observe Carolina Wrens is by attracting them to your feeders, especially during the colder winter months. I see them feasting on suet the most, but they also eat peanuts, shelled sunflower seeds, and mealworms. Carolina Wrens rarely visit bird feeders during the summer since plenty of insects are around for them to eat.
Carolina Wrens are often heard before being seen! Their song, which is only sung by males, is usually three-parted and sounds like they are saying “tea-kettle tea-kettle tea-kettle.“ These birds are impressive singers, and individuals can make many variations of this song, so you never know exactly what you will hear.
#15. Carolina Chickadee
- Poecile carolinensis
- Length: 4.5–5.1 in / 11.5–13 cm
- Weight: 0.32–0.42 oz / 9–12 g
Carolina Chickadees are small with a distinctive black cap and bib, pale white cheeks, a gray back, and white underparts. Both males and females look the same.
You should be able to spot these tiny birds in North America in deciduous and mixed woodlands and swampy areas. Carolina Chickadees also adapt well to humans and are extremely common in parks and suburban and urban backyards!
Carolina Chickadee Range Map
Like most chickadees, they are intensely curious and intelligent. Try attracting them by offering sunflower seeds, peanuts, and suet. Because of their small size and acrobatic abilities, they can use almost every type of bird feeder.
#16. Tufted Titmouse
- Baeolophus bicolor
- Length: 5.5–6.3 in (14–16 cm)
- Weight: 0.6–0.9 oz (17–26 g)
These small birds are commonly seen in eastern North America in deciduous forests, backyards, and city parks. They often flit from tree to tree, looking for food while hanging from branches upside down or sideways.
Tufted Titmouse Range Map
Tufted Titmice visit bird feeders regularly, especially in winter. They are shyer than other birds, and they typically fly in quickly, grab a seed, and then fly somewhere else to eat in private.
The best food to attract them is sunflower seeds, but they also readily eat peanuts, safflower seeds, and suet.
These birds are very vocal, and my guess is that you will recognize their sounds after listening below. Their song is a fast, repeated whistle that sounds like “peter-peter-peter.”
#17. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
- Archilochus colubris
- Length: 2.8 to 3.5 in / 7 to 9 cm
- Weight: 0.071 to 0.212 oz / 2 to 6 g
These small birds are common in North America during warm summer months.
Once cooler temperatures start to arrive, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds birds migrate to Mexico. Amazingly, most individuals travel ACROSS the Gulf of Mexico to reach their wintering grounds. Remember, they must make this incredibly long journey in a single flight, as there is nowhere to stop and rest. 🙂
Ruby-throated Hummingbird Range Map
Believe it or not, these hummingbirds make distinctive noises. The sounds I hear most often are a series of calls that seem to be given as individuals chase each other around. It resembles a chattering “chee-dit.” Press PLAY below to hear what they sound like!
Press PLAY above to hear the sound these birds make!
#18. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
- Polioptila caerulea
- Length: 3.9–5.1 in / 10–13 cm
- Weight: 0.18–0.25 oz / 5–7 g
Because of their small size, the easiest way to see one of these birds in North America might be to listen for it! Keep your ears open for a thin, musical warble. In addition, they have a call note that sounds like a nasally, whining “pzzzzz.“
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Range Map
Interestingly, the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher’s breeding range keeps expanding northward. Since records have been kept, they have shifted about 200 miles, consistent with increasing temperatures.
Believe it or not, even though these birds eat many small insects and invertebrates, they don’t eat that many gnats. 🙂
#19. Brown-headed Nuthatch
- Sitta pusilla
- Length: 3.5–4.3 in / 9–11 cm
- Weight: 0.35–0.42 oz / 10–12 g
As the name suggests, these tiny birds have a distinctive brown cap on their head. Also, look for a chisel-like bill, blue-gray upperparts, and white underparts. Both males and females look the same!
You will find Brown-headed Nuthatches in North America living in pine forests. The best habitat has an open understory with mature Loblolly, Shortleaf, Longleaf, and Slash pine trees.
Brown-headed Nuthatch Range Map
Brown-headed Nuthatches are social birds, and they are often seen together with members of their family. It’s common for hatchlings from the previous season, especially young males, to stick around and help their parents raise the next brood! These helpers are known to do everything from nest construction to territory defense to feeding nestlings.
Listen for 2-syllable squeaks, which have been compared to a toy rubber ducky being squeezed. These sounds can be repeated up to 12 times and are heard year-round!
Lastly, Brown-headed Nuthatches are one of the few birds that use tools! They sometimes use small pieces of bark to scrape away flakes of bark still attached to the tree, which reveals insects hidden below.
#20: Rufous Hummingbird
- Selasphorus rufus
- Length: 2.8–3.5 in / 7–9 cm
- Weight: 0.071–0.176 oz / 2–5 g
Rufous Hummingbirds have an interesting migration pattern. In the spring, they fly north up the Pacific Coast to their summer breeding grounds. They return to their winter homes in Mexico and parts of the southern United States by flying a completely different route along the Rocky Mountains!
In fact, they have one of the longest migrations of any bird in the world, which is incredible given their small size!
Rufous Hummingbird Range Map
Despite being small, Rufous Hummingbirds are the most aggressive hummingbird in North America! Be careful if one finds your hummingbird feeders or garden, as they will relentlessly attack and drive other hummingbirds away. They have even been seen chasing chipmunks!
#21. Mountain Chickadee
- Poecile gambeli
- Length: 5–6 in (13–15 cm)
- Weight: .38 oz / 11 g
As the name suggests, you must head to the mountains if you want to find a Mountain Chickadee! These small birds have black heads and distinctive white eyebrows, which makes them fairly easy to identify.
Mountain Chickadee Range Map
Like other chickadee species, these birds are agile and curious. They often flit from tree to tree in coniferous forests, searching for insects, spiders, seeds, and nuts.
Listen for them singing a 3-4 note descending whistle, “fee-bee-bay” or “fee-bee-fee-bee.” Some people think it sounds like they are saying “cheeseburger!”
But the most common call you will hear is “chick-a-dee-dee-dee,” which sounds very similar to a Black-capped Chickadee, even though these species tend to pay little attention to each other.
#22. Pygmy Nuthatch
- Sitta pygmaea
- Length: 3.5–4.3 in (8.9–10.9 cm)
- Weight: 0.3–0.4 oz (8.5–11.3 g)
Pygmy Nuthatches are incredibly active and described as little bundles of energy!
You can find these tiny birds in western North America in long-needled pine forests, especially Ponderosa Pines. They are most common in areas that have avoided heavy logging since they rely upon older trees with cavities to raise their young.
Pygmy Nuthatch Range Map
Pygmy Nuthatches are extremely social birds and are known as cooperative breeders. Many breeding pairs get help from other males, which are commonly the females’ sons from prior years! These “helper” birds assist with defending the nest and feeding the incubating female and hatchlings.
These birds travel together often, and they almost always roost together. One biologist observed as many as 100 gather together in the same cavity!
The most common call you will hear is described as a noisy, rapid “tee-dee, tee-dee.”
#23. Black-chinned Hummingbird
- Archilochus alexandri
- Length: 3.25 in / 8.25 cm
- Weight: 0.11 oz / 3.1 g
I will never forget the first time I saw this hummingbird species. While on a camping trip in Zion National Park, I took an early morning walk when a male Black-chinned Hummingbird started feeding on the wildflowers in front of me! I still remember the vibrant purple throat shining in the early morning sun. 🙂
Black-chinned Hummingbird Range Map
These small birds breed in North America during the summer months. In winter, Black-chinned Hummingbirds migrate to the west coast of Mexico.
This species is one of the most adaptable hummingbird species and is found in various habitats. Look for them in mountain and alpine meadows, canyons with thickets, orchards, urban areas, and recently disturbed areas.
- Psaltriparus minimus
- Length: 3.5–5.5 in / 9 to 14 cm
- Weight: 0.16–0.32 oz / 4.5 to 9 g
If you see ONE of these small birds in North America, you can be confident there are many more around! These social birds typically travel in flocks of 10 to 40 individuals.
Bushtits are very small but also extremely active. Look for them in thickets or low branches along the edges of woodlands and parks. These birds are acrobatic, and it’s common to see them hanging upside down, looking for food on the undersides of vegetation.
Bushtit Range Map
Bushtits visit bird feeders, but it’s more common during colder months when bugs aren’t as readily available to eat. Try feeding suet, sunflower seeds, peanuts, and mealworms. Just be prepared because when they arrive at your feeding station, upwards of 30 individuals can be mobbing the place! 🙂
#25. Calliope Hummingbird
- Selasphorus calliope
Length: 4 in / 10 cm
Weight: .071-.106 oz / 2-3 g
The Calliope Hummingbird is the smallest bird in the United States!
For reference, it weighs about the same as a ping-pong ball. 🙂
Calliope hummingbirds have an incredibly long migration route, especially considering their tiny size. The Calliope spends its winters in Mexico. But each spring, they migrate up the Pacific coast to their summer breeding grounds. During fall migration, they return to Mexico by following the Rocky Mountains instead of heading back down the coast.
Calliope Hummingbird Range Map
Even though they are tiny, Calliope Hummingbirds are known to be feisty during the breeding season. They have been observed chasing away birds as large as Red-tailed Hawks!
#26. Anna’s Hummingbird
- Calypte anna
- Length: 3.9 to 4.3 in (9.9 to 10.9 cm)
- Weight: 0.1 to 0.2 oz (2.8 to 5.7 g)
These jeweled beauties are tiny birds that weigh about the same as a nickel.
Anna’s are different from most hummingbirds since they don’t migrate much, if at all. These hummingbirds are year-round residents from southern British Columbia to northern Mexico. They have varied habitats, including deserts, mountains, woodlands, gardens, and chaparral.
Anna’s Hummingbird Range Map
To help locate these hummingbirds in western North America, listen for a long song that often lasts ten seconds or more. The song starts with a series of buzzes, which is then followed by a pleasant-sounding whistle. The entire sequence can last more than ten seconds and typically finishes with some chip notes.
#27. Lesser Goldfinch
- Spinus psaltria
- Length: 3.5 to 4.7 in / 9 to 12 cm
- Weight: 0.28 to 0.41 oz / 8 to 11.5 g
The Lesser Goldfinch is one of the smallest birds in North America.
But the crazy thing is they are pretty tough around food sources or wildflowers. For example, they’ve been known to chase away larger birds to show dominance.
Look for these goldfinches gathered in large groups that can number up to several hundred individuals. You’ll see these flocks around feeding sites and water sources.
Lesser Goldfinch Range Map
Lesser Goldfinches are often found in the suburbs, where they are common visitors to feeders. These small finches eat sunflower seeds and the thin-hulled seeds of Nyjer/thistle.
The male’s song is a rapid medley of twittering notes, lasting up to 10 seconds.
#28. Broad-tailed Hummingbird
- Selasphorus platycercus
- Length: 4 inches (10 cm)
- Weight: 0.13 oz (3.6 grams)
Broad-tailed Hummingbirds are a bird of mountain meadows and open woodlands. They typically breed at elevations between 5,000 and 10,500 feet. Even during summer, the temperatures regularly drop below freezing when you’re this high up!
To survive these cold nights, Broad-tailed Hummingbirds enter a state of torpor, where they slow their heart rate down and drop their body temperature until the sun comes up!
Broad-tailed Hummingbird Range Map
These small birds only stay in North America for a few months, from late May to early August. Once the breeding season is over, they migrate south to Central America.
Males put on impressive aerial displays to attract females. The show begins with the male climbing high into the sky and then diving towards the ground, pulling up right in front of the bird he is trying to attract. Broad-tailed Hummingbirds are promiscuous, and they may mate with many individuals during a breeding season.
#29. Lawrence’s Goldfinch
- Spinus lawrencei
- Length: 4.75 in (12.1 cm)
- Weight: 0.4 oz (11 g)
Lawrence’s Goldfinches are highly nomadic because they live in extremely arid areas. To find enough food and water, these small birds move around constantly.
Lawrence’s Goldfinch Range Map
Lawrence’s Goldfinches don’t get their yellow breeding feathers through molting (like most birds). Instead, the feathers become yellower as they wear, shedding their brownish color and exposing yellow parts of the feather beneath.
Listen below as the male Lawrence’s Goldfinch sings several high-pitched notes mixed with some of their call notes. Typically, they’re more musical than other finches and often imitate other birds.
#30. Chestnut-backed Chickadee
- Poecile rufescens
- Length: 3.9-4.7 in (10-12 cm)
- Weight: 0.3-0.4 oz (7-12 g)
Chestnut-backed Chickadees are truly handsome little birds. They are easily identified by their chestnut backs and sides, which match the bark of the trees they live amongst.
Chestnut-backed Chickadee Range Map
Look for these small birds in western North America in dense coniferous forests. They can also be easily attracted to bird feeders. Just make sure your backyard has plenty of shrubs and trees they can use for cover!
Chestnut-backed Chickadees have a unique call when it comes to chickadees. Listen for a high, scratchy “chick-a-dee” that lasts 1 – 1.5 seconds. They also sing a series of “gargle” notes, but these noises aren’t heard often.
Learn more about other birds in North America!
Which of these SMALL birds have you seen in North America?
Let us know in the comments!