This tundra fowl is a master of camouflage. In the winter, the willow ptarmigan is white with red markings above the eyes and a bit of black on the outer edges of the tail. Come summer, the willow ptarmigan will trade their winter coat for a brown one, starting with the head and neck in the spring. Ptarmigan also have feathery feet to protect them from extreme cold.
The willow ptarmigan is the state bird of Alaska. They are known to live in the tundra, particularly in areas thick with dwarf willow for which the ptarmigan is named. Unlike many other game birds, willow ptarmigan males will help the female care for her brood.