Ontario is home to various bird species, from the majestic Bald Eagle to the tiny Chickadee. Among the many species of birds found in this Canadian province are some of the smallest birds in the world. These birds have varieties of economic importance in the environments where they are found in, which may include helping to control important pests that may cause disease breakout.
Some of the smallest birds in Ontario are hummingbirds, Saw-whet Owls, American Goldfinches, Blue Jays and Cedar Waxwings. Let’s discuss some of these birds in the subsequent paragraphs and some of their unique characteristics.
Top 10 Smallest Birds In Ontario (2023)
These tiny birds are the smallest in Ontario. They are found in gardens and meadows, and they feed on small insects and nectar. They are one of the most recognisable birds because of their quick, darting movements and their beautiful iridescent feathers. Hummingbirds are a beloved sight in Ontario and part of the province‘s natural beauty. Hummingbirds are the smallest of all birds, and they are most easily identified by their wings, which beat incredibly fast.
Their wings can beat up to 80 times per second! Hummingbirds are found across Ontario, but they are most densely populated in the southern part of the province. The most commonly found hummingbird species in Ontario is the Ruby–throated Hummingbird. This species is one of the few migratory hummingbirds and can be seen from late April to early October.
Other species of hummingbirds, such as the Black–chinned Hummingbird and the Rufous Hummingbird, can also be spotted in Ontario, but they are much less common. Hummingbirds are an essential part of Ontario‘s ecosystem. They are important pollinators and help to keep our plants and flowers healthy.
2. Saw-whet Owls
Another essential bird on this list of the smallest birds in Ontario is the Saw-Whet Owls. Bird enthusiasts can find this small owl in wooded areas and forests in Ontario. They are characterised by their bright yellow eyes and reddish-brown feathers. Saw–whet owls are small owls native to Ontario. They are one of the smallest owl species in North America and one of the most widespread. They inhabit various habitats, including forests, woodlands, and urban areas. Saw–whet owls are found in nearly all parts of Ontario, from the northern boreal forests to the more southern agricultural landscapes.
These owls are typically active at night and feed mainly on small mammals such as mice and voles. They use their sharp talons to catch their prey and swallow it whole. They typically roost in thick tree cavities or other small nooks during the day. Saw–whet owls breed in the spring and summer, with the male and female often choosing the same nesting site year after year.
Females typically lay between 2–3 eggs per clutch and incubate the eggs for about 25 days before they hatch. These owls are elusive and secretive, often remaining hidden during the day and only becoming active at night. Because of this behaviour, they can be challenging to spot and often go unnoticed.
However, their distinctive call shows their presence in the area. It is a loud, rhythmic “toot–toot–toot” sound, which is often heard during the evening hours. Saw–whet owls are an essential part of the Ontario ecosystem and play an important role in controlling rodent populations. It is essential to protect their habitats and ensure that they are not disturbed during the breeding season.
3. American Goldfinches
These birds can be found in areas with thistles, sunflowers, and other plants. They are easily recognisable by their bright yellow and black feathers. American Goldfinches are small, cheerful birds native to Ontario. They are one of the most commonly seen birds in the province and can be found in open areas, such as farm fields, meadows, and suburban yards. American Goldfinches are easily identifiable by their bright yellow plumage and black and white wings.
American Goldfinches are primarily seed-eaters, and they feed on various tiny seeds, such as thistle and dandelion. They also eat insects, such as caterpillars and aphids, when available. During the summer months, American Goldfinches flock to bird feeders to feed on sunflower seeds and other high–energy bird food. American Goldfinches are very social birds seen in large flocks from spring through fall. They are also very active birds and can often be seen flitting from branch to branch in search of food.
American Goldfinches are an essential part of the Ontario ecosystem, providing food for predators such as hawks and owls and helping to disperse seeds for the growth of plants and flowers. They are also a welcome sight in suburban and rural areas, where their cheerful songs and vibrant plumage can bring joy to birdwatchers.
4. Blue Jays
These birds are common in wooded areas and backyards throughout Ontario. They are easily recognisable by their blue and white feathers. The Blue Jays is a species of bird found in Ontario and across parts of North America. They are medium–sized songbirds with a distinctive blue–grey colour and white chest. The blue jay is an omnivore which eats plants and animals. This includes nuts, berries, insects, snails, and eggs from other birds. Blue Jays are very vocal and loud birds.
They are known for their high–pitched, raspy calls, often heard in the early morning. Blue Jays are also very social and can be seen in small flocks throughout the summer. They are also aggressive towards other birds and animals, often chasing them away from their feeding areas. In the winter months, Blue Jays migrate south to warmer climates, returning to Ontario in the spring.
5. Cedar Waxwings
These birds are found in woodlands and gardens across the province. Their pointed crest and brown-streaked feathers characterise them. Cedar Waxwings are a beautiful species of birds found in Ontario. They have a distinctive crest on their heads that gives them the name “waxwing”. They have a brownish colour with a yellow or orange tint on their wings and a black mask across their eyes. Cedar Waxwings are found in open fields, parks, and backyards.
They feed mainly on berries and insects, as well as suet, jelly, and fruit. They form large flocks and can often be seen circling trees looking for food. In the summer months, Cedar Waxwings can often be seen nesting in trees, particularly in coniferous forests. They lay their eggs in a cup-shaped nest lined with grass and moss. Both parents take part in the construction of the nest, and the female lays up to 5 eggs that are incubated for around two weeks. In the winter months, Cedar Waxwings migrate south in large flocks, usually to the southern parts of the United States and Mexico.
They usually return to Ontario in the spring when the weather worsens. Cedar Waxwings are an essential species in Ontario, as they are a food source for many other species, including other birds, mammals, and even some reptiles. They also help to spread seeds from the berries they eat, which helps to keep the forest healthy.
6. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds
These hummingbirds are similar to the more common hummingbird, but they have a distinctive ruby-coloured throat. They can be found in wooded areas and gardens in Ontario. The Ruby–throated Hummingbird is a small species of hummingbird that is found in North America. The species is found primarily in Ontario, Canada and across the eastern United States. It is the only species of hummingbird found in Ontario and is a widely distributed and abundant bird.
The Ruby–throated Hummingbird is a distinctive species with a metallic green back and crown, white underparts and a distinctive ruby–red throat patch. The species is sexually dimorphic, with male birds having a redder throat and a more elongated tail than females. In Ontario, Ruby–throated Hummingbirds are found mainly in the southern regions of the province.
They are most common in the Carolinian forests of southwestern Ontario, where they can be found in various open, semi–open and closed habitats. The species is also found in various open habitats, fields, meadows and gardens. In Ontario, the Ruby–throated Hummingbird breeds between April and August and overwinters in the southern United States. The species is a strong migrant, and individuals can travel up to 1000 km daily.
7. Red-breasted Nuthatch
They are characterised by their small size, white and black feathers, and bright red breasts. The Red–breasted Nuthatch is a small, active bird native to Ontario, Canada. It is a member of the Sittidae family, which includes various nuthatches. The Red–breasted Nuthatch is a familiar sight in deciduous woods and coniferous forests during the winter when they can be spotted searching for food on tree trunks and branches.
The Red–breasted Nuthatch has a reasonably extensive range in the province, although its population is decreasing in some areas. It is a common bird in northeastern Ontario but is becoming less common in southern parts of the province. The species is particularly vulnerable to climate change, needing specific conditions to survive. The Red–breasted Nuthatch’s diet consists of various insects, seeds and nuts.
During the winter months, it can often be seen using its sharp bill to pry open conifer cones to reach the seeds inside. The bird is also known to eat suet from bird feeders, a popular food source for many species of birds. The Red–breasted Nuthatch is one of the most vocal birds in the province. The loud, piercing call of the bird can easily be heard in the woods during winter months.
8. House Wrens
These tiny birds are found in gardens and wooded areas in Ontario. The light brown feathers and white belly characterises the bird. The House Wren is a songbird and may be heard singing its distinct, high–pitched song early in the morning and late in the evening. It has a long, thin bill adapted for taking insects from crevices and foliage. House Wrens are found in various habitats, including deciduous and coniferous forests, shrublands, and open fields.
They breed in cavities or nest boxes in trees, shrubs, or manufactured structures. House Wrens also use dried plant material to construct their nests, sometimes lined with feathers and fur to add insulation. During the winter, House Wrens migrate to more southern regions of the United States and Mexico.
They return to Ontario in the spring to begin the breeding season, which typically begins in late April. House Wrens typically lay three to five eggs, and both parents help to raise the young. House Wrens are an essential part of Ontario‘s ecology. They are insectivores, which means they help to control insect populations. They also provide essential food sources for other species, such as hawks and predators.
9. Brown Creepers
These birds are found in wooded areas and gardens in Ontario. They are characterised by their long, thin beaks and brown feathers. Brown Creepers are small, sparrow–sized birds in Ontario and throughout much of North America. They are brown–streaked birds with light brown upper parts and buffy underparts.
They have a long, decurved bill and a long, downward-curving tail. Brown Creepers tend to inhabit deciduous or mixed forests with mature trees. They feed on insects and spiders by climbing tree trunks and branches, using their long toes and curved, specialised bill to search for prey. They are known to nest in crevices of tree bark, often near the trunk or larger branches.
In Ontario, Brown Creepers can be spotted year–round, although they may move southward in winter. They are often found near feeders and may join other species of birds, such as chickadees and nuthatches, in foraging for food.
10. Winter Wrens
They are typically found in deciduous and coniferous forests, as well as suburban gardens. Winter Wrens are relatively common throughout the province, but they are most abundant in the southern parts of Ontario. Winter Wrens are easily identified by their short, round bodies, small bills, and rust–brown markings on the back and head.
They have a white throat, chest and a long, rounded tail. Winter Wrens feed on small insects, spiders, and other invertebrates. They also eat fruit and seeds during the winter months. They can often be spotted hopping along the ground, searching for food. Winter Wrens sing a loud and varied song, often from a high tree perch.
They are also known for their energetic flight, flying straight up and down or zig–zagging through the air. Winter Wrens are active year–round and are likely to be seen in wooded areas during the winter months. They are generally solitary birds, but people can sometimes spot small flocks in the late winter and early spring.
The ten smallest birds in Ontario are the American Goldfinch, Wood Thrush, Downy Woodpecker, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, White-throated Sparrow, Black-capped Chickadee, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Purple Finch, Common Yellowthroat, and American Tree Sparrow.
All of these birds are pretty small, with the largest, the American Goldfinch, having an average size of 4.5-5.5 inches. The smallest is the Northern Saw-whet Owl, which has an average size of 5.5-7 inches.
These birds are found in various provinces’ habitats, from forests and fields to wetlands and urban areas. They are all colourful and active birds, with the smallest species being particularly vocal and often heard before being seen.