Friday, May 29, 2009

~~ Morphing Naturally ~~

We have several animals that change color in Alaska, which I like to call morphing naturally.
In this post I will be talking about two of them, the Snowshoe Hare (rabbits) and the Ptarmagin (bird)
(pronounced tar-ma-gen).

1. To change the form or nature of; transform.
2. T subject to metamorphosis or metamorphism undergo or be capable of undergoing a change in frm or nature.
Excerpt taken from:

Snowshoe Hare in a Summer Coat of Browns

Snowshoe Hare Summer Coat (photo by Unknown)

Actually Alaska has two different breeds of Hares, one is called the Snowshoe Hare (Lepus americanus) and the other is called the Alaskan Hare (Lepus othus) which is also known as the Tundra Hare. In this post I am going to just concentrate on the Snowshoe Hare.

Snowshoe Hares are about 18 - 20 inches long and weight about 4-5 pounds. They have a brownish tan in color coat in the summer with some bits of white fur on the feet and underbelly.

Their fur changes to what looks almost pure white against the snow, with the underfur being a gray color. It is during the winter months that the black tips on their ears stand out. Their paws are completely covered in fur including the skin pads so that their feet are well protected from the ice and snow in the winter, which is why they called Snowshoe hares.

Snowshoe Hare in a Winter Coat of White

Snowshoe Hare in a Winter's Coat (photo by Unknown)

The Snowshoe hare breeds when they are about 1 year old. and they have 2 or 3 litters a year. The gestation of the Snowshoe hare is approx 36 days. The baby hares called Leverets (tho I call them bunnies) are born in May here in the interior of Alaska, with as many as 6 little ones. The female hare breed again, immediately after they have had a litter.

The tiny bunnies are born in a small hole or depression, they weigh around 2 ounces and unlike a rabbit, they are born with fur, and are usually up and about before their fur completely dries from birth. In a couple of days after birth they are wandering around, and in just a couple of weeks are eating the green grass and vegetation.

You can usually find Snowshoe Hares in the forests with spruce trees, and in swamp areas. They eat a large variety of plants and will also eat the buds off the Aspen and Willow Trees.

They are most active during the evening and early morning hours, you can usually see them sitting on the sides of the road. Just sitting straight up looking all around. They usually will travel around in the same paths in the summer and winter.

Snowshoe Hare Tracks in the Snow

Snowshoe Hare tracks (photo by Mike Kingston)

They populate in cycles, some years in a row we will hardly see a Hare anywhere, then all a sudden they are everywhere. You always know the cycle is high in number because there are usually Snowshoe Hare carcasses all over the roadways, because they are so thick in number and are constantly hopping onto the roads unexpectedly

The Ptarmigan also called Rock or Willow Ptarmigans are the Alaska State Birds. Whenever I see one they always remind me of a small chicken, some say pidgins... They are very round looking birds. They can fly but seems like they would rather be on the ground or low bushes.

Ptarmigan in Summer Feathers

Ptarmigan Summer Feathers (photo by Unknown)

They always seem so calm to me. You can practically walk right up to them before they start showing any signs of nervousness. They glean the berries off the low bushes on the ground. They have no problem with blending in, in fact you practically can't see them until you are practically walking on them. In the summer they are covered in a mixture of brown, black, tan and white feathers, they really blend well into the ground cover and bushes.

In the winter they turn completely white, you cannot see them in the snow unless they move, and that is only because their eyes look so dark against the white feathers, that you notice them when they move against the white snow. They are very beautiful birds and they are also good to eat. Hunting season for Ptarmigans is usually around August through March, and there is usually what they call a bag limit set. You have to check in with Alaska Fish and Game to find out what the requirements are in the area you plan on hunting in.

Ptarmigan in Winter Feathers

Ptarmigan in Winter Feathers (photo by Unknown)

They are easy to catch, because as I said you can practically walk right up to them, some refer to them as "dumb birds" because it seems to take them a few minutes to realize they may be in danger, and then they fly practically straight up... into low tree branches when they do take flight.


K Fields

1 comment:

  1. Thank-you for posting my post from Arcticulates.. It looks very nice here!
    Have a happy day! :)