This photo shows a miniature figurine, not a real bird

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A photo is circulating in Facebook posts around the world that claim it shows a topaz hummingbird, the "smallest bird on earth". Another photo is shared in other posts with a similar claim. The claims are false. In fact, both pictures show a miniature figurine, not a real bird. The topaz hummingbird is not the world's smallest bird.

This Facebook post from February 11, 2022, shares a photo that appears to show a tiny, brightly coloured bird perched on a twig.

"This is the Hummingbird 'Topaz', the smallest bird on earth," reads text above the picture.

The post has been shared more than 4,500 times.

Screenshot of the misleading post, captured on February 17, 2022

The same picture was shared in Facebook posts in various countries, including the United States, Nepal and Pakistan.

Similar Facebook posts shared a photo of a different "bird" alongside the claim it showed the world's smallest bird.

"The world's smallest bird, the Humming Bird. It flaps its wings 80 beats within a second," reads a Sinhala-language Facebook post, uploaded on April 22, 2021.

It had been shared more than 100 times before it was removed.

Screenshot of the second misleading post, captured on February 17, 2022

The image was shared via multiple posts on Facebook as seen here, here and here.

However, the claims are false.

First photo

A reverse image search on Google found the photo in an Instagram post posted by an account called nvillustration on June 3, 2018. 

The account belongs to a pair of India-based miniature paper-cut artists Nayan Shrimali and Vaishali Chudasama

The post's caption reads: "156/365, Number One Hundred fifty six from our 365 days of miniature art ~ Crimson topaz Hummingbird ..."

It features hashtags including "#paperart", "#artoftheday" and "#papercutartist". 

The Instagram account's description reads: "Creating nature with Paper". 

The same photo was also published on the same day here on their Facebook page, with the same caption.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Nayan (@nvillustration)

Their miniature bird artworks have been featured here and here

The artists posted similar creations on the Instagram account as part of a challenge to make one miniature bird every day for one year.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo in the first misleading post (L) and the artists' genuine photo (R): 

Screenshot comparison of the photo in the first misleading post (L) and the artists' genuine photo (R)

Second photo

A reverse image search found the second picture in an Instagram post published on the account of another miniature artist called malinik_miniatures on July 8, 2020.

"Little Robin landed on my hand," reads the post's caption, which features hashtags such as "#miniature", "#handmade" and "#handsculpted". 

The Instagram account's description reads: "Realistic animal and bird sculptures in 1:12 scale". 

The same photo was also published on the same day here, on the Facebook page Malinik Miniature Animals, also with the same caption.

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Ina Malinik (@malinik_miniatures)

Both the Instagram account and Facebook page link to the same eBay account, where the artist sells the miniature figurines.

The US-based artist behind the figurines, Ina Gancheva, told AFP in 2019 that a picture of a similar bird figurine that she made was also misrepresented in posts claiming it shows "the world's smallest bird". 

Below is a screenshot comparison of the picture from the second misleading post (L) and the artist's genuine photo (R):

Screenshot comparison of the photo in the second misleading post (L) and the artist's genuine photo (R)

 

World's smallest bird

The world's smallest bird is the Cuban hummingbird, also known as the bee hummingbird, experts say — not the topaz hummingbird. 

Professor Gary Stiles, an ornithologist at the National University of Colombia's Natural Sciences Institute told AFP in 2019: "The smallest is a hummingbird native to Cuba that weighs up to two grams as an adult."

Andrés Cuervo, ornithology curator of the National University of Colombia, also told AFP that the world’s smallest bird was the Cuban hummingbird.

"It’s tiny, between five and six centimeters, with a weight between 1.6 and 2.5 grams. They feed on insects and flower nectar," he said. 

According to Guinness World Records, the world's smallest bird is the bee hummingbird of Cuba, not the topaz hummingbird. 

A bee hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae) sucks from a flower at the aviary El Nido, on September 27, 2011, in Ixtapaluca, State of Mexico, near Mexico City. ( AFP / Ronaldo Schmeidt)

Male bee hummingbirds measure 5-6 cm (2-2.4 inches), while male topaz hummingbirds measure 12-23 cm (8-9 inches).

The bee hummingbird has been on the threatened species list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.