The State Bird of Alaska, the willow ptarmigan is one of those birds that looks completely different depending on the season. A member of the grouse family in an arctic state where prey is not abundant, Lagopus lagopusis have to exhibit extraordinary protective methods for their survival. In the summer it is mostly brown to blend into the vegetation (pictured here), in the winter they are primarily white to camouflage into the snowy landscape.
We found these beauties in a river bed while driving through Denali National Park. Since we were in a RV, we took out our lunch and had a picnic with them. That was a good call, because we didn’t see too many more of these lovely but skittish birds.
Unless you are comfortable in arctic temperatures, there is a small window of time in which to visit Alaska. June through August is the Alaska travel season, so if you “have always wanted to see Alaska,” it’s time to go now! Have fun!
Photo credit: Athena Alexander