Yesterday, February 13, 2015 marked the first ever sighting of hirenjaku, or Japanese waxwing, in Zamami Village. According to local bird-watching expert Mr. Shinobu Tanaka, the Japanese waxwing is extremely rare in Okinawa and has never before been confirmed in Zamami. The Japanese waxwing primarily resides in north-east Asia, and in the case of Japan, Hokkaido. It is unclear as to exactly why these birds ended up in Zamami at over 2000 kilometers (over 1300 miles) from their Hokkaido home. What is known is that the birds move in search of berries. At this time of the year, Zamami’s trees and shrubbery offer an abundance of berries.
Some distinctive features of the hirenjaku are its pointed crest, black throat, and black stripe through its eye. Although similar in appearance to the kirenjaku, or bohemian waxwing, the Japanese waxwing features a distinctly red tail as opposed to the bohemian’s yellow tail.