Discover Alaska’s State Bird: The Willow Ptarmigan

What is the State Bird of Alaska?

The state bird of Alaska is the Willow Ptarmigan. This medium-sized game bird can be found in habitats ranging from lowland tundra to subalpine meadows and rocky slopes. The Willow Ptarmigan was designated as the official state bird of Alaska in 1955 by a joint resolution from both houses of the legislature, making it one of two birds with this distinction in North America (the other being California’s Quail).


The Willow Ptarmigan has a brownish-gray plumage that changes to white during winter months, enabling it to blend into its surroundings. Its feet are fully feathered for additional warmth in cold weather and its bill is short and black. It typically lives at elevations between 250–4,000 meters above sea level and usually feeds on buds, leaves and berries but will also occasionally ingest insects or small vertebrates such as frogs when available. In flight, its wings produce an audible whistling sound due to their long primary feathers which have been described as “fluttering like flags.”


Willow Ptarmigans can be found across much of northern North America including Canada’s Yukon Territory and most all provinces except Manitoba; they reach almost down into Washington State in the USA too however they are primarily concentrated within Northern Alaska within various mountain ranges including Brooks Range, Chugach Mountains, Talkeetna Mountains etc.. They tend towards moist habitats such as wet meadows or bogs at higher elevation where they will find ample food sources within a relatively safe environment away from many predators like foxes & raptors who cannot survive there due to lack of sustenance or thermal conditions respectively.


When breeding season begins around April through May (depending on region), males will perform courtship displays involving posturing with raised tail feathers before hopping onto rocks & branches while calling out loudly trying attract potential mates – females may respond by mirroring his behaviors if interested but ultimately she decides whether or not mating takes place! Once mating does occur then nest building begins which consists mostly sticks lined with grasses & mosses near small water sources such as streams/ponds etc.. There eggs incubate for about 21 days until hatchlings emerge ready for life’s adventure!


In conclusion we now know more about why the Willow Ptarmigan was selected by Alaskan lawmakers over fifty years ago: unique appearance matching its habitat’s changing seasons plus hardy adaptability make it well suited for representing this beautiful wilderness state! Additionally having two distinct species honorarily represented only strengthens our understanding that both California Quails & Alaskan Willows share similar traits yet remain separate entities worthy enough individually…and together symbolizing how diversity should ideally coexist throughout our world today!