Grow your own snowshoes, light as a feather, right on your feet! That’s what the willow ptarmigan does every winter. This bird knows how to handle the snowdrifts that Alaska tosses its way.
By growing feathers on its feet, it enlarges their surface area, making it easier to walk across the snow without sinking in. Good thing, because those drifts can get mighty big, and a typical willow ptarmigan doesn’t get much taller than about a foot and a half.
Given its ability to adapt to the harsh weather, it’s no wonder that the willow ptarmigan has earned its status as the State Bird of Alaska!