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AK State Symbols

Last Updated: May 23rd, 2010 - 21:01:09


State Bird of Alaska
Sep 7, 2006, 11:23 PST

Learn all about the Willow Ptarmigan, the state bird of Alaska.

Willow ptarmigan Lagopus lagopus

Identification Tips:

  • Length: 13 inches
  • Medium-sized, stocky, round-winged, chicken-like bird
  • Squarish black tail
  • Small black bill
  • Legs and toes feathered
  • Brown or white uppertail coverts cover center of tail

Male alternate:

  • Red comb over eye
  • Reddish-brown head and neck
  • White wings and leg feathering
  • Body reddish-brown barred with black or white depending on molt stage

Female alternate:

  • Brown plumage with black spotting and barring
  • Small red comb over eye


  • Entirely white plumage except for dark brownish tail
  • Small red comb over eye

Similar species:

In alternate plumage, the males are distinctive with their reddish-brown head and neck. Rock and White-tailed Ptarmigan are browner. In all plumages White-tailed Ptarmigan has a white, rather than black tail. Female Willow Ptarmigans are difficult to separate from female Rock Ptarmigans but Rocks have a smaller bill. In basic plumage, the Rock Ptarmigan often has a black eyeline.

Length and wingspan from: Robbins, C.S., Bruun, B., Zim, H.S., (1966). Birds of North America. New York: Western Publishing Company, Inc.
Source: USGS


Suggested Reading

Handheld Birds and Software at National Geographic

Keywords: state bird of Alaska, Alaska state bird, Alaska, Willow Ptarmigan, ClassBrain, homework help, state reports,

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