Sumatran Hummingbird

Mystery BIRD of Southeast Asia.

Physical description: Like a hummingbird. Length, 1.5 inches. Yellowish. Striped. Dark-brown underparts.

Distribution: Sumatra, Indonesia. Significant sighting: Otto and Nina Irrgang saw a tiny bird twice in Sumatra in 1957 and 1958. On one occasion, it flew only a foot away from their faces.

Possible explanations:

(1) The Orange-bellied flowerpecker (Dicaeum trigonostigma), Scarlet-backed flowerpecker (D. cruentatum), and several related species found in Sumatra are some of the smallest birds on the island, only about 3.5 inches long. The Yellow-breasted flowerpecker (Prionochilus maculatus) has a brown back and a yellow breast with brown streaks but is slightly larger.

(2) The Ruby-cheeked sunbird (Anthreptes singalensis) and the Purple-throated sunbird


(Nectarinia sperata) are only about 4 inches long.

(3) Hummingbirds (Family Trochilidae) are found only in the Americas. The smallest is the Bee hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae) of Cuba, which, at 2.24 inches long, is also the smallest living bird. The bird seen by the Irrgangs is even tinier and would make it the world's smallest.

(4) A large butterfly, moth, or wasp of some kind.

Source: Loren Coleman, Tom Slick and the Search for the Yeti (Boston: Faber and Faber, 1989), p. 119.

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