These Tiny ‘snow Fairy’ Birds From Japan Are Adorably Puffy

If you love birds as much as I do, you may be captivated by their vibrancy of colors, their range of sounds (whether sweet like those of songbirds or booming like the bittern), their ability to fly and their status as evolved dinosaurs. But there’s a more primal, sensory reason to enjoy these animals: they can be so fluffy and cute.

Just check out one subspecies of the long-tailed tit, or shima enaga. Specifically, this group lives in Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost (and second-largest) island. Islands are well-established as biodiversity hotspots because they tend to isolate animal and plant populations, which then develop unique, specialized features.

Adobe

Hokkaido, a transitional zone between subarctic forests to the north and cool temperate forests to the south (i.e., it’s cold), features more than 200 species of birds and about 37 species of mammals, including the only brown bears in Japan. The island features six national parks and numerous other parks spanning regions and prefectures to protect natural areas.

The long-tailed tit as a species is common across Europe and Asia, but most of them look a bit different. They tend to have gray or brown eyebrows and have more brown in their feathers. It’s the pure-white faces of the adult members of the Japanese subspecies that give them a downy, cottony appearance and the nickname “snow fairy.”

In this image, taken by Diana Rebman and posted to Twitter by the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, you can see the tit with its black-tipped wings and tail outstretched, drinking from an icicle.

Here’s another photo from @niiya_photo, showing how cottony and cute these little birds can be.

And if you’re looking for a regular infusion of this kind of content, there’s even an entire Twitter account at @simaenaga_bot dedicated to these birds that’ll inundate you with images every day.

The long-tailed tit, Aegithalos caudatus, is a small bird that generally weighs no more than .32 ounces, with a length of about 5.5 inches and a wingspan of up to 7.5 inches or so. They travel, forage and roost in groups of up to 20 birds and have a 2-3 year average lifespan. Their diet consists of small insects, spiders and aphids. They breed once a year, in February or March, and average 8-12 eggs per season. Long-tailed tits as a global species are considered of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List, but the Hokkaido-based subspecies (or Aegithalos caudatus japonicus) is much rarer.

Want to see these birds in action? Here’s a video posted to YouTube by Saiyu Travel.

Talk about adorable. We’ve already gotten our cuteness quota for the day!