Willow Ptarmigan

1/2500s at f5.6, ISO:400, Canon Mark III 1Ds w/400mm

The Willow Ptarmigan is a bird of the grouse subfamily. It is a sedentary species, breeding in birch and other forests and moorlands in the tundra of Scotland, Scandinavia, Siberia, and of Alaska and northern Canada. It is the state bird of Alaska. In summer male's plumage is marbled brown, with a reddish hue to the neck and breast, a black tail, and white wings and under parts. It has two inconspicuous wattles above the eyes, which become prominent in the breeding season. The female is similar, but lacks the wattles and has brown feathers strewn all over the belly. In winter, both sexes' plumages become completely white, except for the black tail. In summer ptarmigans feed on green shoots, buds, flowers, and insects; in winter they take mainly twigs and buds of willows and alders. Clutch size: 6 to 12,
Churchill, Manitoba