Exploring Beauty of the Shima Enaga Bird: A Detailed Look

Spread the love

The Shima Enaga, also known as the silver-throated tit or silver-throated dasher, is a subspecies of the long-tailed bushtit (Aegithalos caudatus) that is native to Hokkaido, Japan.

These enchanting birds are known for their diminutive size and strikingly pure white faces, resembling tiny, bouncing snowballs.

This guide covers everything you need to know about these captivating creatures, from their physical characteristics to their behavior, diet, and photography tips.

Physical Characteristics

The Shima Enaga is a small bird, with a body length ranging from 12 to 16 cm, including their long tails which measure 7 to 9 cm.

Both males and females have identical plumage, making it difficult to distinguish between the sexes based on appearance alone. Their most distinctive feature is their all-white face, which contrasts beautifully with their black eyes and tiny beak.

The rest of their body is covered in soft, fluffy feathers that can vary from light grey to buff, with a hint of brown on the back and wings.

Their tails are long and slender, contributing to their overall delicate appearance.

Physical Characteristics of Shima Enaga bird

Habitat and Distribution

The Shima Enaga is predominantly found in Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan. While the long-tailed bushtit has a wide range across the Palearctic realm, the Shima Enaga subspecies is most commonly associated with Hokkaido.

They inhabit a variety of wooded environments, including deciduous and mixed forests, as well as suburban gardens and parks. These birds are highly adaptable and can be found at various altitudes, from lowland forests to mountainous regions.

Behavior and Social Structure

Flocking and Territoriality

Shima Enaga birds are highly social creatures that live in flocks, especially outside the breeding season. These flocks typically consist of 10 to 20 birds, primarily family groups composed of parents and their offspring.

Occasionally, wandering individuals from other flocks will join, and adult birds work together to raise the brood. Despite their sociable nature, these birds are territorial and will fiercely defend their feeding and nesting areas from neighboring flocks.

Territorial disputes can involve vocal displays and physical confrontations, although actual fighting is rare.

Shima Enaga birds are highly social creatures that live in flocks, especially outside the breeding season. These flocks typically consist of 10 to 20 birds, primarily family groups composed of parents and their offspring.


One of the most notable aspects of the Shima Enaga is their vocalization. They have a high-pitched, constant call that you will often hear before you see them.

This call is crucial for maintaining contact within the flock, especially in dense foliage where visibility is limited. Their calls include a variety of chirps and trills that serve different purposes, such as signaling alarm, coordinating movements, and reinforcing social bonds within the flock.

Explore our guide on what does it mean when a bird poops on your car.

Diet and Feeding Habits

The Shima Enaga is insectivorous throughout the year. Their diet primarily consists of arthropods, including spiders, caterpillars, and various insects.

They have a particular preference for the eggs and larvae of moths and butterflies. Occasionally, they may also consume some vegetable matter, such as seeds and berries, especially when insect prey is scarce.

During the winter months, when insect availability is reduced, they rely more heavily on seeds and other plant material. They forage actively, often seen flitting from branch to branch, meticulously searching for food in crevices and under leaves.

Diet and Feeding Habits of Shima Enaga bird

Breeding and Lifecycle


Shima Enaga birds begin their breeding season in early spring. They construct intricate, dome-shaped nests out of moss, lichens, and spider silk, often lined with feathers for insulation.

These nests are typically built in tree branches, well-camouflaged among the foliage. The construction of the nest is a cooperative effort, with both male and female participating in gathering materials and assembling the nest over the course of several weeks.

Shima Enaga birds begin their breeding season in early spring. They construct intricate, dome-shaped nests out of moss, lichens, and spider silk, often lined with feathers for insulation.


The female lays a clutch of 7 to 12 eggs, which she incubates for about two weeks. Both parents take part in feeding the chicks, which fledge approximately two weeks after hatching.

The close-knit family structure means that even after fledging, the young birds remain with their parents for some time, gradually learning to forage and fend for themselves.

Juvenile birds can often be seen following their parents closely, begging for food and mimicking their foraging behaviors.

Seasonal Movements

Shima Enaga birds exhibit seasonal patterns, though they are not classified as migrants. Throughout the breeding season, they usually stay within their known territories. Conversely, during the non-breeding period, they frequently assemble in larger groups and extend their exploration to broader regions in search of food.

Females tend to explore neighboring territories for resources, while males favor remaining in their winter territories to maintain familiarity with local food and shelter sources.

Shima Enaga birds exhibit some seasonal movements, although they are not true migrants. During the breeding season, they tend to stay within their established territories.

Classification and Evolution

The Shima Enaga was initially classified as part of the Parus group but has since been recognized as a distinct family within the Aegithalidae, which includes five species of long-tailed tits.

The long-tailed tits are characterized by their long tails, small size, and sociable behavior. Recent genetic studies have provided more insight into their evolutionary relationships, confirming the distinctiveness of the Shima Enaga within the broader Aegithalidae family.

Conservation Status

Currently, the Shima Enaga is not listed as threatened or endangered. However, like many wildlife species, they are susceptible to habitat loss and environmental changes.

Conservation efforts in Hokkaido focus on preserving their natural habitats and ensuring sustainable forest management practices.

Protecting the diverse ecosystems of Hokkaido is crucial for maintaining healthy populations of Shima Enaga and other native wildlife.

Discover more about conservation efforts and the challenges faced by other bird species like Easter Egger roosters vs. hens on our website.

Interesting Facts

The Shima Enaga’s fluffy appearance is not just for show; their dense plumage provides excellent insulation against the cold winters of Hokkaido.

These birds are incredibly agile and can perform acrobatic maneuvers while foraging, often hanging upside down from branches to reach insects hidden beneath leaves.

Despite their small size, Shima Enaga birds have a high metabolic rate and need to eat frequently to sustain their energy levels, especially during the colder months.

Is the Shima Enaga bird real?

With its enchanting appearance, you might wonder if the Shima Enaga bird is a figment of someone’s imagination. But rest assured, this bird is very real.

It belongs to the Aegithalidae family, placing it among the small passerine birds. Also known as the long-tailed tit, this bird is not just a delight for birdwatchers but also an integral part of its native ecosystem.

Native to East Asia, you can spot the Shima Enaga in Japan, China, and Korea. Its most striking feature is its elegantly long tail, setting it apart from other birds in the region.

The Shima Enaga sports a distinctive pure white face, giving it a charming, almost fairy-tale-like appearance. Its plumage is soft and fluffy, making it look like a little ball of snow as it flits from branch to branch.

These birds are highly social, often seen in flocks, and are known for their acrobatic foraging behavior, moving agilely through trees in search of insects and small invertebrates.

Is the Shima Enaga bird real?

What is Shima Enaga in English and Japanese?

Known in English as the “long-tailed island tit,” the Shima Enaga is a unique bird species found exclusively on Japan’s Shima Island. Its name comes from Japanese, with “Shima” meaning island and “Enaga” referring to its long tail.

This name perfectly captures the bird’s appearance, resembling a fluffy white ball with a graceful tail as it flits among the tree branches.

In Japan, the Shima Enaga is celebrated for its cuteness and is often featured in art and popular culture. Its presence is a sign of a healthy forest ecosystem, as these birds thrive in well-preserved habitats.

Unfortunately, like many other species, the Shima Enaga faces threats from habitat loss and environmental changes, making conservation efforts crucial to ensure its survival.

The Shima Enaga’s delightful appearance and charming behavior make it a beloved species among bird enthusiasts and a symbol of the delicate balance within nature that needs our protection.

What is Shima Enaga in English and Japanese?

What is the Shima Enaga bird like?

The Shima Enaga bird is a captivating sight with its pristine white face and subtle brown patches on its body. As these birds age, their black “eyebrows” fade, and their white feathers provide excellent camouflage against the snowy winter landscape, helping them evade predators.

Hailing from Hokkaido, these long-tailed tits are so irresistibly cute that they’ve earned the nickname “snow fairies.” With their snowball-like faces, tiny beaks, round eyes, and yellow eyelids, they’ve charmed their way into Japanese pop culture, appearing in anime, manga, and various souvenirs.

Shima Enagas are adept at raising their young, perfectly adapted to their environment. A mother bird can lay between 7 to 10 eggs at a time, diligently caring for them until they hatch in 10 to 12 days. But it takes a village to raise these chicks.

Older birds, even those who aren’t the parents, often pitch in to feed the hungry nestlings. For about 20 days, the chicks need constant feeding until they are strong enough to leave the nest.

This communal approach to raising their young is reminiscent of how humans care for their children until they’re ready to be independent.

You might hear the Shima Enaga before you see it, thanks to its high-pitched calls. Outside of breeding season, these birds are highly social, preferring to live in groups.

Typically, these groups consist of parents and their offspring, though other birds occasionally join in. Despite their social nature, they do value their privacy, sticking close to their family groups.

What is the Shima Enaga bird like?

Where do Shima Enaga birds live?

Originating from East Asia, the Shima Enaga bird predominantly calls Japan its home, thriving in a variety of habitats ranging from lush forests to urban gardens.

These adaptable birds seek out areas abundant in shrubs and trees, which provide both shelter for nesting and a rich food supply.

From the northern reaches of Hokkaido to the southern islands of Okinawa, these feathered inhabitants grace Japan’s diverse landscapes with their presence.

Where can I see the Shima Enaga in Japan?

For an enchanting encounter with the Shima Enaga bird in its natural habitat, Japan offers an ideal destination. These charming creatures can be found across the nation, favoring woodlands and gardens.

Parks and natural reserves, such as the iconic Arashiyama Bamboo Grove in Kyoto or the serene gardens of Tokyo’s Imperial Palace, offer prime opportunities to witness these captivating birds.

In Hokkaido, they remain visible throughout the year, but during the chilly winter months, they fluff up their feathers to stay warm, forming an adorable puffball shape that’s often captured in photographs.

Whether perched on snow-covered branches or hopping among blossoming cherry trees in spring, these birds bring joy to birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike.

However, despite their resilience, these petite birds face challenges, especially in winter. Prolonged cold spells can strain their survival prospects, highlighting the importance of conservation efforts.

By preserving their natural habitats and ensuring adequate food sources, we can help these delightful birds thrive for generations to come.

Where can I see the Shima Enaga in Japan?

Can you keep the Shima Enaga bird as a pet?

While the allure of having a Shima Enaga bird as a pet is understandable, it’s crucial to prioritize their well-being and conservation.

As the world changes, these birds face increasing threats, including habitat loss and dwindling food sources due to environmental shifts.

Conserving their natural habitats is paramount, with many individuals and organizations actively engaged in safeguarding these avian treasures.

Though not currently endangered, proactive measures are vital to ensure their long-term survival. In many regions, laws protect these birds, discouraging their capture and keeping as pets.

Moreover, meeting their specialized habitat and dietary requirements can pose significant challenges in a domestic setting.

Instead of attempting to keep a Shima Enaga bird as a pet, consider supporting conservation efforts and appreciating these birds in their natural environment.

Observing them in the wild or visiting reputable aviaries and sanctuaries allows for a meaningful connection while contributing to their preservation.

By fostering a deep appreciation for these feathered wonders, we can all play a role in ensuring their continued existence.

Can you keep the Shima Enaga bird as a pet?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Shima Enaga bird?

The Shima Enaga, also known as the long-tailed tit or the long-tailed island tit, is a small passerine bird native to East Asia, particularly Japan. It is characterized by its pristine white face, subtle brown patches on its body, and its strikingly long tail.

Where can I find Shima Enaga birds?

Shima Enaga birds primarily inhabit Japan, ranging from the northern island of Hokkaido to the southern islands like Okinawa. They prefer a variety of habitats, including forests, woodlands, and urban gardens, where there are plenty of shrubs and trees for nesting and foraging.

What do Shima Enaga birds eat?

These birds are insectivorous, feeding primarily on insects and small invertebrates found among tree branches. They have a particular affinity for caterpillars, spiders, and other small creatures commonly found in wooded areas.

Are Shima Enaga birds endangered?

While the Shima Enaga bird is not currently considered endangered, it faces threats such as habitat loss and environmental changes. Conservation efforts are essential to ensure their long-term survival and maintain healthy populations.

Can Shima Enaga birds be kept as pets?

Keeping Shima Enaga birds as pets is generally discouraged due to ethical and conservation concerns. In many regions, they are protected by law, and capturing them from the wild can have negative consequences for their populations. Additionally, these birds have specific habitat and dietary needs that can be challenging to meet in a home environment.

What is the lifespan of Shima Enaga birds?

The lifespan of Shima Enaga birds in the wild is not precisely known, but they are believed to live for several years, with some individuals possibly reaching up to a decade. Factors such as predation, disease, and environmental conditions can influence their lifespan.

Do Shima Enaga birds migrate?

Shima Enaga birds are not known to undertake long-distance migrations. However, they may exhibit some seasonal movements within their range in response to changes in food availability or environmental conditions. In colder regions, they may puff up their feathers to conserve heat during the winter months.


The Shima Enaga is a fascinating bird that captivates bird watchers and photographers alike with its endearing appearance and social behavior.

Whether you’re a seasoned birdwatcher or a budding photographer, Hokkaido offers a unique opportunity to observe and capture the beauty of these delightful creatures.

With their distinctive white faces and lively flocks, the Shima Enaga adds a touch of magic to the wintery landscapes of northern Japan.

By understanding their habits and characteristics, you can better appreciate these charming birds and enhance your wildlife photography experience.

Spread the love

Leave a Comment