Ptarmigans are medium sized game birds found in Alaska and other parts of North America. The name ptarmigan is pronounced as “tar-mi-gan”. They are often called snow chickens and are related to the grouse family of birds. The birds love to live in the upper elevations of mountains. The ptarmigan changes the color of its feathers according to the season. In the summer, they are brown and during the winter their feathers turn pure white. They feed on various types of vegetation including leaves, flowers, seeds, and berries. The town of Ptarmigan, Alaska changed its name to “Chicken” to avoid confusion of the spelling and the pronunciation of Ptarmigan. Later, Alaska claimed the ptarmigan as the state bird. Through time, it is funny how a certain word honoring an animal or place can change into a different meaning to us today.
Photo Courtesy of Library of Congress