Wildlife

Photos: A look at Alaska’s state bird in its winter plumage

  • Author: Marc Lester
  • Updated: February 28
  • Published February 28
A willow ptarmigan rests on a branch. The trails of dozens of willow ptarmigan criss-crossed the snow at the base of Arctic Valley Ski Area on February 27, 2018. Willow ptarmigan, Alaska’s state bird, turn from brown in summer to white in winter. (Marc Lester / ADN)
A willow ptarmigan feeds. The trails of dozens of willow ptarmigan criss-crossed the snow at the base of Arctic Valley Ski Area on February 27, 2018. Willow ptarmigan, Alaska’s state bird, turn from brown in summer to white in winter. (Marc Lester / ADN)
The trails of dozens of willow ptarmigan criss-crossed the snow at the base of Arctic Valley Ski Area on February 27, 2018. Willow ptarmigan, Alaska’s state bird, turn from brown in summer to white in winter. (Marc Lester / ADN)

Dozens of willow ptarmigan could be heard calling and fluttering in the brush at the base of Arctic Valley Ski Area at the top of Arctic Valley Road on Feb. 27, 2018. Their feathered feet left trails that criss-crossed the area.

The willow ptarmigan, Alaska's state bird, is nearly all white in winter, except for its dark eyes, beak and tail feathers, which camouflages it against predators. Willow ptarmigan can generally be found in willows and shrubs above treeline and eat buds, twigs and catkins, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.