People from different places travel to see the charming Japanese birds known as Shima-enaga. These adorable birds are nicknamed “snow fairies” in Japan and are famous for their snowball-like appearance. They have long tails and are a subspecies of the long-tailed tit. A well-known photographer once captured these birds on camera, using delicate tree branches as their gym equipment. These beautiful birds can be found in the forests of Hokkaido, which is the second-largest island in Japan.
Hiroki Takahashi, a Sapporo resident originally from an island, has always been fascinated by snow faeries. He spent a whole month searching for them in the forest and was able to capture a stunning sequence of photos of the tiny bird “working out” in December 2022. According to Hiroki, the long-tailed tit is incredibly fast and challenging to photograph, but its egg-shaped face is simply too cute to resist. He walked over 20,000 steps a day just to snap some pictures of it. Hiroki shared his lucky day with The Epoch Times.
According to Hiroki, taking a charming frontal picture of the tiny birds requires adopting different postures and positions. The long-tailed tit tends to move around in various directions, so one must be quick to capture them. Using his Canon EOS R5 camera with a 300mm lens, Hiroki was able to take close-up shots of the snow fairies’ delightful aerial acrobatics as they bounced around branches, hung upside down, leaped into the air, and even did pull-ups on thick twigs.
Shima-enaga are small birds that weigh approximately 8 grams and reach a length of around 13 to 15 centimeters. They have a long tail and are omnivorous, feeding mainly on insects and other invertebrates. These birds are present year-round on the island but are especially active during winter when they fluff up their feathers to keep warm. Unlike the long-tailed tits of the mainland, adult shima-enaga lose their black eyebrows, leaving behind a pure white face resembling cotton balls. Additionally, if unsuccessful in mating during spring, these birds band together to raise each other’s young. Shima-enaga are highly regarded as a symbol of Hokkaido and are frequently featured on trinkets and handcrafted items.
Starting off with landscape and portrait photography, it was only after he became a dad that Hiroki’s curiosity for single-lens reflex cameras grew. His efforts to capture the elusive Ezo flying squirrels on his nature walks at the start of 2022 sparked his newfound love for animal photography. Recently, Hiroki was pleasantly surprised by the positive response he received on Instagram for his captivating shots of snow fairies.
In an interview with The Epoch Times, he expressed his joy and said, “It brought me immense happiness.” He also shared that Hokkaido, despite being a small place, witnesses animals growing cute and fluffy fur during winters to cope with the cold. He expressed his desire to spread this sweetness all over the world.