The willow ptarmigan is a beautiful bird that can be found in the northern parts of the world.
This bird is medium to large in size, and its feathers are a mix of brown, white, and black. It has a reddish-brown crest on its head. Willow ptarmigans live in cold climates, and they eat seeds, leaves, buds, and berries.
They are very well adapted to living in harsh conditions, and they can survive even when temperatures drop below zero degrees Celsius!
The willow ptarmigan (pronounced tar-mi-gan) was designated as the official Alaska state bird in 1955, four years before Alaska was admitted to the Union.
The willow ptarmigan, a medium-sized to large ground-dwelling bird with a wingspan of 24 to 26 inches and a height of 14 to 17 inches, weighs between 15 and 29 ounces.
The willow ptarmigan has a light brown plumage in the summer and snow white in the winter. The willow ptarmigan’s feathered toes, along with its color-changing feathers, are another distinct feature.
Diet of the Willow Ptarmigan
The willow ptarmigan eats moss, lichens, willow buds and twigs, birch, and seeds and berries in the winter. Their diet expands to include vegetable matter in the summer as well as minor invertebrates such as caterpillars and beetles.
Interesting Facts about the Willow Ptarmigan
- The willow ptarmigan is a pheasant species in the grouse subfamily (Tetraoninae) of the pheasant family (Phasianidae).
- There are three kinds of ptarmigan, all of which can be found in the state of Alaska.
- The willow ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopus) and the rock ptarmigan (Lagopus muta) can be found in northern Europe, Scandinavia, and Russia, whereas the white-tailed ptarmigan (Lagopus leucura) is limited to North America.
- The red grouse (Lagopus lagopus scoticus) is a Scottish subspecies of willow ptarmigan, which was first identified by Latham in 1787.
- Kingdom: Animalia (animal)
- Phylum: Chordata (chordates)
- Class: Aves (birds)
- Order: Galliformes (fowls, gallinaceous birds)
- Family: Phasianidae (partridges, turkeys, grouse, pheasants, and quail)
- Subfamily: Tetraoninae (grouse)
- Genus: Lagopus (ptarmigans)
- Species: L. lagopus (willow grouse, willow ptarmigan) (Linnaeus, 1758)
- Subspecies: Lagopus lagopus alascensis Swarth, 1926
- Binomial Name: Lagopus lagopus alascensis Swarth, 1926