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.