Also Goes By: Snow Grouse, Willow Grouse, Arctic Grouse
As Alaska’s state bird, the Willow Ptarmigan can be found throughout the state’s high altitude, treeless country. In addition, they occupy a broad range of Canada, Scandinavia and Russia. This bird is distinct from the Rock Ptarmigan because of its thicker bill and larger size. Moreover, the Willow Ptarmigan is the only grouse that involves the male birds in parental care. In fact, a pair of these birds will stick together through out the breeding season, only separating after their chicks have grown to independence. In summer, the Willow Ptarmigan is more brownish in color. They will take on a marbled brown plumage with a black tail and white wings and belly.
Photo Courtesy of Tim Bowman, USFW.
As their name implies, these birds feed on willow buds and twigs as a staple of their diet. However, they will also eat a little birch and incorporate other food sources during the summer months. They can be found in the open tundra, preferring areas heavily covered with moss, grass, shrubs and herbs.
These birds are wonderful to hunt with a canine companion.