Willow Ptarmigan Bird
Category: Birds Other
Facts about Willow ptarmigan bird. "Scientific name for Willow ptarmigan bird is Lagopus lagopus". The Willow ptarmigan bird is one of three ptarmigan species in Alaska, and it is the largest and most common of the three. The willow ptarmigan became the Alaska state bird in 1955. Willow ptarmigan bird has the greatest range of any ptarmigan species, which covers the entire state of Alaska and areas beyond.
The Willow ptarmigan birds are ready prey for foxes, owls and hawks. They are sometimes hunted by subsistence hunters.
The species is not endangered or threatened.
Habitat of Willow ptarmigan bird
The Willow ptarmigan bird lives on the arctic tundra. They live on the treeless tundra across the Arctic plains from Alaska to Newfoundland. The Willow ptarmigan bird sometimes live in the openings in the evergreen forests. They prefer areas heavy with grasses and shrubs, especially willow-lined waterways, hence the name. This is because they build nests on the ground.
The Willow ptarmigan bird are found along the North American Pacific coast all the way down to the southern Canadian border. However, they are not found in the densely forested valleys around Alaska’s interior rivers. The Willow ptarmigan bird are also not found on the far western Aleutian Islands.
Anatomy of Willow ptarmigan bird
The Willow Ptarmigan ranges from 14 to 17 inches (35.5 to 43.2 cm) long. It has a wingspan of around two feet (60.9 cm). The Willow ptarmigan bird weighs one to two pounds (.45 to .9 kg), the size of a small chicken. They have thick, wide bills. The male’s bill has a white patch that lasts for two to three weeks before brown summer plumage comes in.
The Willow ptarmigan bird lay clutches of four to fourteen eggs. They prefer wetter areas with more vegetation than the related ptarmigan species.
The Red Grouse is a subspecies of the Willow ptarmigan bird that lives in England. The Red Grouse remains reddish brown throughout the year instead of turning white at winter like other ptarmigans. For the remaining groups, both genders are white with black tail feathers in winter. In the summer, the wild Willow ptarmigan bird has chestnut red feathers that appear around May. The female turns brown quickly to better camouflage her eggs as she broods, whereas the reddish brown male grows a second layer of light brown feathers that don’t finish growing until he replaces them with white winter ones.
Unlike many birds, the Willow ptarmigan bird has feathered feet to help it walk on snow.
Diet of Willow ptarmigan bird
Willow ptarmigan birds eat a large number of willow leaves. In the winter, the willow tree / bush’s buds and twigs are up to 80% of the Willow ptarmigan bird’s diet. They compete with moose and hare for this food source. They also eat berries, birch leaves, seeds and some insects.
Behavior of Willow ptarmigan bird
The male Willow ptarmigan bird starts searching for a territory in late April or early May. They then compete for mates as the females arrive. The eggs arrive in late May. Chicks hate in late June and into July.
Willow ptarmigan bird pair at the beginning of the breeding season to raise their young, but may pair with different individuals the next year. The Willow ptarmigan bird is the only grouse in which the male is involved in caring for the young. Once the young are fledged and independent, the males and females separate into same gender flocks and small groups, typically around September. Females tend to move further south and down-slope than males who migrate shorter distances so that they’ll be the first to return in spring to mating territories.
If the female Willow ptarmigan bird is killed, the male may actually take over all of the care duties. Around two thirds of the ptarmigan chicks are dead before they are a year old.
In the winter, the species prefers lower altitudes than those they live in for breeding.
The Willow ptarmigan bird will fly into snow banks to sleep, so they don’t leave tracks for predators.
Taxonomy of Willow ptarmigan bird
It is part of the Phasianidae or Pheasant family. The Willow ptarmigan bird is part of Order Galliformes, which includes turkeys, quails and pheasants.