November 29, 2011

Wildlife Wonders of Alaska - Willow Ptarmigan

The willow ptarmigan is an arctic grouse and shaped similar to a chicken. It was designated as the Alaska state bird in 1955. A cool thing about these birds is that they change colors, from brown in summer to white in winter, for camouflage from their predators. They also have feathers on their legs and feet for protection from cold and to help them move across snow. These birds spend most of their time on the ground, but will explode into rapid flight if startled. Also, a ptarmigan will fly directly into a snow bank to sleep under the snow. They fly into their beds because walking in would leave tracks for predators to follow.

The willow ptarmigan is the only grouse in the world where the males are regularly involved in parental care. The parents remain together from the beginning of the breeding season until their chicks are independent. The males help protect the families against predators and even raise the young if the female dies.

The male birds in these photos successfully diverted our attention so that the females and chicks could escape in the tall tundra grass and willow thicket!


  1. Okay, I want an outfit in those colors, too. What gorgeous feathers. And I'm mighty fond of any bird where the male of the species does his fair share.

  2. Hi Donna, I learn so much through blogging. I've never heard of the Willow Ptarmigan. What a gorgeous bird... Thanks so much for sharing.. (Can't believe that they change colors.. Neat!)


  3. I love the feathery legs, it looks like he needs a shave.

  4. That is so cool. I love it when animals stay together through the whole child rearing process. I know, I'm weird but I think about these things. We were just watching a show about bears and it's all up to the Momma to raise those younins.
    Thanks for the beautiful pictures and the information to go along side!
    BIG HUGS to you my friend.

  5. Another fantastic shot, Ms. Donna! He's so pretty and your photo, I'm sure, did him justice. :)

  6. Have I told you lately how much I appreciate what you bring to us? Always.


    Oh, and if I haven't said before, your blog looks beautiful!

  7. wow they have really pretty feathers. That would be so interesting to see them fly right into a snow bank.

  8. A very interesting bird Donna. You do have some interesting posts to catch up on.
    Love the Christmas decorations below and looking forward to seeing yours also. Also the basket is interesting too.
    Been quite a month here helping the little family settle in at the beach after shifting back from NYC. What fun to have them so close again.

  9. Well, he's Beautiful! I'd heard of them but never really paid attention and certainly didn't realise they change colors! That's cool!

    Your shots are Gorgeous Miz Donna!!

  10. Gorgeous photo! I called my husband to see and I should had known, he knew of this bird. He knew all about it! I, on the other had, learned a lot from your post. :)

  11. Oh those hairy legs and feet! So funny! And what great pictures. I love the one of him sneaking through the tall grass. He likes those purple flowers.

  12. Lol, I sure wished I changed colors with the seasons;) And thank you for visiting my blog!


Marty, here! Donna loves comments, and I faithfully pass them on to her. Thank you so much for visiting!