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Know about 'Shima enaga', cute-little fluffy bird!

The Shima enaga, also known as the long-tailed chickadee, is a subspecies of the long-tailed chickadee (Aegithalos caudatus).

By groundreportdesk
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Know about 'Shima enaga', cute-little fluffy bird!

The Shima enaga, also known as the long-tailed chickadee, is a subspecies of the long-tailed chickadee (Aegithalos caudatus). Shima enaga subspecies, however, are only found on Hokkaido, Japan's second-largest island.

The Shima enaga has been a beloved bird in Japan for a long time, and the Japanese call them Shima enaga, which translates to "long-tailed island tit." These birds are known for their fluffy, pure white feathers and long tails, which make them look like little snowballs hopping from branch to branch.

History of Shima enaga bird

The history of Shima enaga is intertwined with the history of Hokkaido. The island was inhabited by the Ainu for centuries before the arrival of Japanese settlers in the late 19th century. The Ainu people had a close relationship with the land and the animals that lived there, including the Shima enaga.

In the early 20th century, Hokkaido experienced increased development and deforestation, which threatened the habitat of the Shima enaga and many other species on the island. Efforts were made to protect the Shima enaga and its habitat, including creating protected areas and promoting ecotourism.

Today, the Shima enaga remains a popular and beloved bird in Japan, and efforts to protect its habitat and promote its conservation continue.

What makes Hokkaido myths so special? 

Long-tailed chickadees, also known as Shima enaga, are beloved by the Japanese and can be found flitting among the trees in Hokkaido, Japan's second-largest island. These fluffy white birds are only found in this region and have tails that run half the length of their bodies, measuring between 13 and 15 centimeters.

In Hokkaido, the species has a unique feature that sets it apart from its counterparts in other regions. As adults, they lose their distinctive black "eyebrows", leaving them with a completely white face that resembles a small snowman.

The Long-tailed Tit or Long-tailed Bushtit (Aegithalos caudatus) is a common bird found throughout Europe and Asia. Photo Credit: Flickr/Hiyashi Haka 

These energetic creatures are year-round residents of Hokkaido, where their white faces help them blend in during the island's long winters. They travel in flocks of 20 to 30 birds and perform acrobatic tricks as they flit among the trees. Despite their small size, they are a hardy species and lay between 7 and 10 eggs, which helps maintain their population even during harsh winters.

Raising these adorable birds is a community effort, with other adult birds that have failed to breed helping to feed all the chicks. Parents and other birds take turns bringing insects to the nest until the young are old enough to fend for themselves.

Interesting facts about this adorable bird

Physical characteristics:

  • The Shima enaga bird is relatively small, measuring between 13 and 15 centimetres long. However, half of its length is its long tail, which can measure up to 8 centimetres.
  • Their bodies are covered in thick, fluffy white feathers, making them look like little balls of cotton.
  • They have distinctive black "eyebrows" that extend above their eyes, giving them a unique appearance.
  • Hokkaido Shima enaga birds lose their eyebrows when they reach adulthood, leaving them with completely white face that makes them look like little snowmen.
The reason for the flocking behavior is believed to be due to their susceptibility to cold weather, as they huddle on cold nights. When the breeding season begins, the flocking ends. Photo Credit: Birdy Minds

Habitat and Behavior:

  • Shima enaga birds are found exclusively on Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan. They live year-round in this region, where their white feathers help them remain unnoticed during the long, snowy winters.
  • They typically travel in flocks of 20 to 30 birds and perform acrobatic tricks as they flit among the trees.
  • Despite their small size, these birds are quite energetic and have a high metabolism, which means they need to eat frequently to maintain their energy levels.
  • They feed mainly on insects, seeds, and berries, which they forage in the forests of Hokkaido.
  • During the breeding season, which runs from late April to early August, males perform elaborate courtship displays to attract females.


  • Shima enaga birds usually breed once a year, laying between 7 and 10 eggs per clutch.
  • The female builds a nest made of moss, lichens and feathers, which she lines with soft materials such as animal hair or plant down.
  • Incubation lasts about two weeks, with both parents taking turns sitting on the eggs to keep them warm.
  • Once the eggs hatch, both the parents and other adult birds that have failed to breed help feed all the chicks.
Photo Credit: My Modern Met
  • The chicks are fed a diet of insects and other small invertebrates until they are old enough to fledge, which takes about three weeks.
  • The young birds remain dependent on their parents and other helpers for a few more weeks before becoming independent.

State of conservation:

  • The Shima enaga bird is classified as a species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This means that they are not considered endangered today.
  • However, like many other bird species, the Shima enaga bird faces threats such as habitat loss and fragmentation, as well as predation from introduced mammals such as rats and cats.
  • Conservation efforts to protect these birds' habitat and control populations of invasive predators are essential to ensure the long-term survival of this beloved species.

Climate Change Impact

Shima Enaga faces significant challenges due to climate change. Japan's climate is changing rapidly, and this is having a significant impact on the Shima Enaga's habitat and food sources.

One of the main challenges facing Shima Enaga is the loss of its habitat. The bird lives in forests and forests, but many of these areas are being destroyed by development and deforestation. As a result, Shima Enaga is losing the places it needs to live and reproduce.

Another challenge facing Shima Enaga is the loss of their food sources. The bird feeds on insects, spiders and other small invertebrates, which are becoming less abundant due to changes in climate. For example, warmer temperatures are causing some insect populations to decline, making it harder for Shima Enaga to find food.

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