For those of you that didn't spend hours obsessing over birds as a child, reading ornithological book after ornithological book borrowed from the town library (not that I know anyone like that myself, mind you), a ptarmigan is an arctic bird, about the size of a large dove, that has completely white feathers in the winter, and molts them all to reveal a dull brown/black plumage in the summer. And as sure as sugar's sweet, anytime you look up "ptarmigan" in an encyclopedia or indie birder zine, they'll have two pictures of the ptarmigan, one in each said feathered state.

Now what's great about this, beyond the fact that the bird pulls this off to be able to blend in with its either wintry or grassland surroundings, season dependent, is that the popular bird media never shows you the "in-between" stages of molting, wherein I'm sure the bird just looks like a total dirty piece of crap.

Perhaps it's the ptarmigan's chameleonesque features, or more likely the wicked cool silent "p" in it's name, but for reasons still oblivious to myself and other mainstream birders, the press almost appears to take pride in persuading us that one wintry evening, when the snows finally move back into northwest territories, ptarmigans are visited by the "ptarmigan fairy" and instantly given a vanna-white coat.

Note, the "ptarmigan fairy" is in no way related to Dave Tarmigon from third grade, who, come to think of it, used to get singled out and viciously pummeled in dodgeball. A humanitarian back then, I wasn't … Bill Nye today, I am not, neither.

Review by AAA