This Tiny Adorable Bird Is the World’s Smallest Bird of Prey

The black thighed falconet is no larger than a sparrow, but don’t let its size fool you, as this tiny bird is a ruthless predator capable of killing prey its own size.

Falconets are the smallest birds of prey in the world, with the black thighed falconet (Microhierax fringillarius) and the Bornean falconet (Microphierax latifrons) sharing the title of smallest bird of prey in the world. With bodies only 14 to 16 centimeters long, a wingspan of 27 to 32 cm, and only a few grams in weight, the black thighed falconet certainly doesn’t sound like the most efficient predator, but its cute appearance is even more deceiving. The parakeet-like bird is one of the most adorable you’ll ever see, but don’t let that fool you when it comes to hunting, this thing is a tiny killer.

Photo: anukma/inaturalist

The black thighed falconet mainly feeds on insects including moths, butterflies, dragonflies, winged termites, and cicadas, but it will occasionally attack small birds, lizards and even mammals like small bats. It usually hunts from perches with a good view, dashing out to catch some passing insect in flight, but it can also surprise its prey in foliage that that only conceals it from ground predators. These tiny predators are unusually social, at least as far as birds of prey go, hunting in packs as large as 10 individuals.


Native to Brunei Darussalam, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia, the black-thighed falconet is a highly adaptable species that appears to be tolerant of habitat disturbance. There is no official data on population densities, and population assessments vary, but the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources lists Microhierax fringillarius as a species of list concern.

For more interesting bird facts, check out our articles about the loudest bird in the world, and the fastest animal on Earth, the peregrine falcon.