Barely bigger than an insect, Elena’s hummingbird weighs less than two grams and lays eggs the size of a coffee bean – the smallest bird in the world.

This hummingbird is encountered in Cuba, and is extremely small even for a hummingbird, to the point that people often mistake it for a real bee when they see it hovering above the flowers (so much so that in English it is called “bee hummingbird”).

According to the scientists , this unusual bird is the result of a phenomenon they call “island dwarfism,” whereby some species that have problems competing against larger species for resources, become smaller and smaller over evolutionary time to avoid running out of food. and to compete against other categories of organisms.

The reduction in size has allowed the bee hummingbird to avoid extinction, as the diversity of pollinating insects on the islands is not the same as on the mainland, because the insects usually have difficulty traveling large separate distances of water. However, being this small comes with some tough survival challenges.

Image: Wikipedia

Being a small organism costs a lot of energy, as metabolic rate and body heat loss are much higher, and because this bee hummingbird is exceptionally fast and spends more time flying than any other hummingbird species, it needs a lot of food. It is estimated that an Elena’s hummingbird needs to feed on at least 1,500 flowers a day just to survive.

Even with a lot of nectar and mosquitoes in its daily diet, the smallest bird in the world cannot maintain body heat at night. To survive, it enters a state known as “numbness”, a kind of semi-lethargy that reduces both body functions and energy requirements.

These birds weigh less than a penny and build coin-sized nests. Their small eggs are the size of coffee beans. During nesting, females keep males away from eggs, as their bright feathers can attract predators. Precisely for this reason the females stop somewhere near the nest, wait a few moments to make sure there are no threats and only then return to the eggs.