Monday, May 4, 2009

Denali - Willow Ptarmigan


Today's featured species from Denali is the Willow Ptarmigan. These guys are all along the park road right now. They are within the grouse family as well as the state bird of Alaska. Their range is only in Alaska and northern Canada.
As you can see from the above image, the male has a distinctive red brown neck.

The female has a more brown mottling neck color. In the second image she is feeding on some willow blooms. In the winter they are completely white.


What I find most interesting about these guys is the red colored Andy Rooney eye brow thing they got going on, fascinating feature that raises up and down depending on how agitated or aggressive he is feeling.

Two interesting facts about the Willow Ptarmigan. One is that the males in comparison to other species of grouse will take responsibility of the young by defending its territory and his young. According to Wikipedia, males have even been documented to have attacked a Grizzly Bear and will attack humans who distract their young.

Next post will contain Snowshoe Hare photographs.

Blue Skies.

16 comments:

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

A most interesting bird Ken and great pics too. The eyebrow does make it look most distinctive.

Are they good to eat?

Rajesh said...

Very nice snap with lot of info. Both male and female are different.

kjpweb said...

You don't do anything less than perfect! Never heard of this guy, but sure is beautiful!
Cheers, Klaus

koand said...

Witam ,piękne zdjęcia , ciekawy opis , nie znam się na ptakach ale czytałem z zainteresowaniem . U nas w Polsce też są ludzie robiący dobre zdjęcia ptaków . zobacz:
http://onephoto.net/?p0=2&p1=1&user=38832&gal=1
Pozdrawiam i życzę miłego dnia . Andrzej .

fishing guy said...

Ken: I'm happy to get a Robin in a tree but a pair of ptarmigan would be such a treat. Where yo far away? I know you have that long lens.

Twisted Fencepost said...

Interesting critter. Love those eyebrows too.
Great shots! Thank you for sharing your trip to Alaska!

Tim Rucci said...

Nice shots and an interesting, informative post. Keep the updates coming.

Stacey Huston said...

Stunning birds.

Juan C. Aguero said...

Good document, interesting bird!!

echunks said...

awsome pics collections in entire blog posts. thnks for sharing.

Fish Whisperer said...

Wow what an amazing place.
Great shot.
Cheers

T and S said...

Fanatastic composition and find Ken. Looking forward to many more.

a passion 'n frames said...

beautiful !!

Ken Conger Photography said...

To answer your questions:
Yes, Joan they are good to eat like most of the grouse family.

FG yes I was close, usually about 15-20 feet for most photos.

Blue Skies.

Andor Marton said...

Interesting bird and fantastic shots. I like those eyebrows too, the female is very photogenic. Thnx for sharing!

Ray said...

Beautiful shot of a cute bird. Ptarmigans are my favorite animals. They are feathery feet are cute. How are they like around people? I read they are tamed and you can pet them.