Alaska State Bird

Alaska State Bird

The 49th registered state of America, Alaska, came into statehood on January 3rd of 1959. The 2013 consensus concluded it has a population of 735,132. The capital city is Juneau. The state also has the nickname of the Last Frontier. Today though, we will talk about the state bird rather than the state itself.

What is the state bird of Alaska?

There’s a famous joke that Mosquitoes are the state bird of Alaska. However, whom the title truly belongs to has nothing in common with Mosquitoes. It’s none other than the Willow Ptarmigan. These friendly birds roam the highlands of Alaska freely, always with a bit of stoutness in their posture.

Willow Ptarmigan was also chosen by the children of Alaska in 1955 when the constitution was drafted. Once Alaska became acknowledged as a state in 1960, the Ptarmigan also rightfully took its place as the state bird.

During the winter, these smart species protect themselves from predators by changing their plumage’s light brown color throughout summer to snow white to blend in with the Alaska snow.



What makes the state bird of Alaska unusual?

The most unusual part of Willow Ptarmigan has to be its ability to change its color during winter, white from the light brown it usually sports. They are different from other species in that they are masters for camouflage. And perhaps for this reason, they are quite proud and walk around without fear. They aren’t particularly startled by humans, which makes it easy to spot them in some ways.

Alaska state bird facts

Let’s take a look at some interesting facts about the state bird of Alaska.

1. Its name, the Ptarmigan, is derived from tàrmachan from Scottish Gaelic. In the British Isles of the North, this is what the old name for the bird used to be. The P at the front resulted from the early ornithologists somehow coming up with the theory that the word is actually derived from the Greek language. This is because, in Greek, the species name means hare footed. This appears to be a nod to the toe and feet that have an abundance of feathers.

2. In the world, it is the only species of grouse where the male plays a part in raising the young. From the start of the breeding seasons until their babies become independent, the parents tend to stay together. This takes about 7 months for them.

3. They are a playful species. When they are in flocks, they entertain each other by expanding their head and bobbing it. Then, they would jump here and there and flap their wings a lot. Other birds join in on the fun, and this way, they straighten their motor skills and the team bond.

Final Thoughts

If you visit Alaska, you should try to see the Willow Ptarmigan. In winter, you might have a hard time spotting them due to their ability to become one with nature. Well, that is what some birding gears are for! You can always have a birding guide and the equipment you need to have some luck seeing the Willow Ptarmigan.


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