Female Willow Ptarmigan Photo

Female Willow ptarmigan in fall plumage, Wrangell St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

Female Willow ptarmigan in fall plumage, Wrangell St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

The Willow Ptarmigan is Alaska’s state bird, anbd very common throughout much of the state. This female is changing from summer to winter plumage.

This photo of a Willow Ptarmigan was taken in Skolai Pass on a trip up there early September one year. Skolai Pass might just be my favorite part of the park, and the relatively abundant wildlife is just one reason why. This particular afternoon, we had just watched a a number of these ptarmigan come out of the brush and head up the ridge, on to the open tunda where they browse the grasses, when a merlin swooped by, and within seconds literally hundreds of Willow Ptarmigan rushed by, wings pounding air, as they retreated as quicjkly as possible into the safer confines of the dense brush; they’re not called “Willow Ptarmigan” for nothing!!! Lagopus lagopus, Wrangell St. Elias National Park, Alaska.

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