Photographer's Note

This is a photo of the Alaskan state bird, the Willow Ptarmigan (the "P" is silent). Though they can fly, they spend the majority of their time scampering around on the ground. They even nest on the ground, as there aren't many trees on the tundra. I saw a few of these along the road while in Denali National Park, but it wasn't until I encountered this one in the brush that I could fully appreciate how cleverly camouflaged its plumage is. During the winter months, the bird goes completely white in order to elude predators in the snow. In the summer, its plumage transforms to resemble the underbrush.

Here you can see that during spring, most are halfway done molting for the season. Still though, they are pretty well hidden. As a matter of fact I nearly stepped on this guy while hiking in the backcountry. I was more startled than the bird, who didn't move a muscle while I snapped a few shots.

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Additional Photos by Rob Crizzle (Walnutzz) Silver Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 46 W: 1 N: 51] (245)
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