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  • Phillip Radcliffe

The Shima Enaga Bird

Updated: Jan 13

(Japanese translation below)


By Naoka Kawakami


The Shima Enaga is a bird of the sparrow family, which only lives in Hokkaido. The body length is about 10 to 14 cm, the weight is about 10 g, and it is smaller than a typical sparrow. It is the smallest bird in Japan. In winter, air accumulates on the feathers to withstand the cold, so it looks round like a pure white snowman. The nickname "Snow Fairy" comes from this figure. However, in the summer when the temperature is high, there is no need to puff up its body, so the body line is slim. The feathers are slightly brownish and smaller than in winter.


The Shima Enaga can be observed throughout Hokkaido. If you want to observe the Shima Enaga, it is recommended to look during the middle of winter from December to February. However, you can't see them often in winter in frigid places like Abashiri. The staple foods of the Shima Enaga are sap, small tree nuts, and insects. Therefore, from early spring to autumn, they are often found in forests where nuts and insects are abundant.


On the other hand, during the winter when nuts and insects are not available, they often frequent villages for sap from trees that line the streets. Contrary to its cute appearance, it has an aggressive side. It forms a group of about 5 to 10 birds, and always fights with adjacent birds to expand their territory. This behavior becomes particularly intense during the breeding season. The style of attack is by striking the body of other birds while flying in the air. When there is an intruder, they may chase it persistently and attack it with their feet while flying.


Since the Shima Enaga is a bird that only lives in Hokkaido, it is used as a motif at various shops and shrines. The image of the Shima Enaga bird is also popular in other prefectures, and there are hotels with the motif of the Shima Enaga. For example, you can buy fortunes and amulets in the shape of the Shima Enaga at Obihiro Shrine. In addition, there is a cafe in New Chitose where you can watch birds, including the Shima Enaga. There is Shima Enaga ice cream on the menu of the cafe, and it's so popular that people line up for it every day.




シマエナガ

川上 実花


シマエナガは北海道にしか生息していない、スズメ目エナガ科の鳥です。体長は約10~14cm、体重は約10gほどでスズメよりも小柄です。日本最小クラスの鳥です。冬は寒さに耐えるために羽毛に空気をためるので真っ白な雪だるまのように真ん丸になります。「雪の妖精」という呼び名はこの姿から来ています。しかし気温の高い夏場は体を丸くする必要がないので、ボディラインはスリムになります。羽毛はうっすらと茶色がかったような色合いになり、冬よりも小さくなります。


シマエナガは北海道全域で観測できます。シマエナガを観察するならおすすめは12月から2月にかけた真冬の時期です。ただ網走のような極寒の地では冬場はあまり見られません。シマエナガの主食は樹液、小さな樹の実、昆虫です。そのため、春先から秋にかけては木の実や昆虫が豊富に捕れる森の中にいることが多いです。反対に、木の実や昆虫が捕れなくなる冬の間は、街路樹などの樹液を目当てに人里に下りて来る事が多いです。


かわいらしい見た目とは裏腹にアグレッシブな一面があります。5~10羽ほどの群れを形成し、縄張りを広げようと常に隣接する群れと争いをくり返します。この行動は特に繁殖期に激しくなります。攻撃のスタイルは、空中で飛びながら体ごとぶつけます。侵入者がいればしつこく追いかけ、飛びながら足で蹴ることもあります。


シマエナガは北海道にしか生息していない鳥なので、様々なお店や神社などでモチーフにされています。また、他県でも人気があり、シマエナガをコンセプトにしたホテルもあります。例えば、帯廣神社ではシマエナガの形をしたおみくじやお守りが購入できます。他に、新千歳にはバードウォッチングができるカフェがあります。カフェのメニューにはシマエナガのアイスクリームがあり、連日並ぶほど人気です。

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