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Help develop a Bird ID tool!

Rock Ptarmigan

Lagopus muta ORDER: GALLIFORMES FAMILY: PHASIANIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A true bird of the tundra, the Rock Ptarmigan changes its coloring between seasons to blend in with its surroundings. It is pure white in the snow-covered winter, but mottled dark and white when the snows melt.

Be a Better Birder Tutorial 4
Birds of North America Online

Appearance

Gamebirds
Gamebirds
Typical Voice

Adult Description

Medium to large chicken-like bird. Thick bodied. Tail moderately short, rounded, and black. Completely white in winter. Barred grayish brown in summer. Wings white.

Immature Description

Similar to adult.

Range Map Help

Rock Ptarmigan Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

Field MarksHelp

  • Male breeding

    Rock Ptarmigan

    Male breeding
    • © 2004 Cornell Lab of Ornithology
  • Male breeding

    Rock Ptarmigan

    Male breeding
    • © 2004 Cornell Lab of Ornithology
  • Female at nest

    Rock Ptarmigan

    Female at nest
    • © 2004 Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Similar Species

  • Willow Ptarmigan has larger bill, lacks black eyestripe in winter. Male is more reddish brown in breeding plumage. Female more brown and less gray.
  • White-tailed Ptarmigan is smaller, lacks black eyestripe, and has all-white tail (difficult to see).