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AW: Question -- was shaking bird trees



> This brought to mind something I meant to look up before I
> got so lazy.
> 
> What is the smallest bird known to have lost it's
> flight ability? Is there a well-defined size threshold
> below which flight is rarely or never lost?
> 
> Don

_Pachyplichas jagmi_, _Xenicus longipes_ and _Emberiza alcoveri_ were all about 
the size of a goldfinch.

A few of the Hawaiian rails were pretty tiny too; IONO whether the record of 
_Porzana menehune_ as smallest known rail still stands. In any case it can't 
have been more than 1-2 cm longer than the above.

Given the paucity of insular birds below the size of the above, the answer to 
your question would be "probably not". Hummingbirds don't really count; the 
*process* of becoming flightless must at least be evolutionarily neutral and it 
is hard to imagine how that ought to happen in hummers.

The extinct insular wrens (true wrens) were behaviorally in the early stages of 
becoming flightles. And they were close to the small end of Passeriformes.


Eike


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