Friday, May 15, 2009

Willow Ptarmigans








The willow ptarmigan is the Alaska state bird and one of my favorites for a lot of reasons, some of them related to the large number of them I have killed and eaten over the past 20 years.  Their plumage changes with the seasons and they are masters of camouflage once their seasonal change is complete.  They make some of the most unique noises in the animal kingdom, hard to describe really, and they will sometimes explode from right underfoot as they sit tight on the ground until the last minute, relying on their ability to blend in with the surrounding terrain.  

These days I no longer hunt ptarmigan - is has always just been an excuse to get outside in the winter and snowshoe around in the fresh air anyways - but photographing them is still great fun.  They are gorgeous birds, and I thing the old World War II buildings make interesting backdrops to capture them "on film".

10 comments:

Bren said...

I have seen pictures of them all white but never with the variety of color you have managed to take. They must be your quail in Alaska ;o)

Gigi said...

We were in that same exact location yesterday with Aidan and saw a pair of ptarmigans. Rich has very similar photos! Funny. We passed you on the road on your way out as we were heading home. I said, "there goes Steve on his motorcycle," master of observation that I am.

And, hey, is the Guardian crew mad about something?!

Lothian said...

They are so pretty. I have heard their call and it is unusual indeed.

Kim said...

are these the type they are hunting on that survival show thats on after Deadliest Catch

unalaska said...

I love the sound ptarmigan make! Kind of a mix between a frog and a sqeaky door, with a little chicken mixed in. Great photos.

mamawas said...

unique creature Thanks for sharing
Donna

KC said...

Oh, that's a shame. I love how those guys taste (in addation to all the other things I love about them!). They're really good as fajitas!

Bloviating Zeppelin said...

I think someone needs a can of gray spraypaint to take out the vile graffiti behind the bird in the first photo. And ptarmigan fajitas? Creative!

BZ

cookie dough said...

Again, WOW! You get the coolest shots Steve. I'm much too loud and un-calm to ever see anything wild. I did see my 1st squirrel today (not counting the poor road kill one down the road) I have to slow down. Or I can just enjoy your pics! That sounds easier!!

Mystic said...

These are AMAZING pics! Wow!