A picture of a bird the size of a fingernail has been circulated on social media and has duped users into believing it shows “the smallest bird species ever observed”.
The image was viewed tens of thousands of times on Twitter and Facebook in late August (here and here) and depicts the tiny creature sitting between a human’s thumb and forefinger.
“The Bee Hummingbird is the smallest bird in the world, found in the Zapata in Cuba. It beats its tiny wings an incredible 80 times a second,” wrote one Twitter user on Aug. 29 in a tweet that later received more than 22,000 ‘likes’.
While it is true that the smallest bird species is a bee hummingbird and is found in Cuba (here and here), the picture is not an accurate representation.
A Google reverse search can trace the image in question back to a Facebook post by the Natural Sciences department at the Sapienza University of Rome, which was published on April 1 and is clearly an April Fools’ joke.
In its initial post including the picture, the department writes that “the research” on the smallest bird would be published in an April volume of “the Daily F.O.O.L.S.” (here).
A follow-up post clarifies the joke and credits the photo to Bulgarian artist Ina Malinik (here).
Bee hummingbirds grow to around 5.7cm in length, according to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). This is several times longer than an average fingernail (bit.ly/38K7Lnv).
Satire. The picture does not show the world’s smallest bird; it’s an image created by a Bulgarian artist. It was used to make an April Fools’ joke which was misinterpreted by some social media users.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here.
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