Willow Ptarmigan-An Alaskan Wonder

Willow Ptarmigan-An Alaskan Wonder

The Willow Ptarmigan is the official state bird of Alaska. Many people have never heard of this bird, primarily because it is not found in the lower 48. In fact, there are only three species of ptarmigan in the world, and all of them are native to the Land of the Midnight Sun.

Willow Ptarmigan somewhat resembles a quail or grouse, and in fact is somewhat related to the grouse. It is a mostly brown bird that has speckles of gray and dark brown on its wings and back. During the winter, the bird loses its brown feathers and replaces them with white ones all over its body. This allows it to blend in with its surroundings, thereby keeping it safe from predators.

 Alaska’s state bird is also a rather large one. It stands around two feet tall and weighs about the same as an average chicken does. It may have a wingspan that is around two feet wide as well.

Although it is a common bird in Alaska, it can also be found in Canada, Russia, and Great Britain. In Great Britain, it is known as the Red Grouse. This bird does not migrate but remains in the area it was born in for its entire life. This is another reason why the bird’s white feathers are helpful to it during the winter months.

Both males and females are responsible for raising their young. A female may lay between four and fourteen eggs in her clutch, and the eggs are laid and hatched in a nest placed directly on the ground. The father and mother bird remain together until their young have fled the nest, at which time the male and female often part ways as well.