Throughout the year, the willow ptarmigan changes its appearance by molting, or shedding, its feathers. During the winter, an all-white plumage keeps it camouflaged among the snow piles of its home. In the summer, when the snow melts and the stems of bushes appears, its feathers change to brown, allowing it to remain hidden. Alaska school children chose the willow ptarmigan as a symbol of Alaska in 1955. It became the official state bird when Alaska was established as the 49th state.
Last updated: March 31, 2017