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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.

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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
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Field MarksHelp

  • Breeding male

    Rock Ptarmigan

    Breeding male
    • © Chris Wood, Alaska, June 2004
  • Nonbreeding male

    Rock Ptarmigan

    Nonbreeding male
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    Rock Ptarmigan

     
    • © Chris Wood, Adak, Alaska, August 2003
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    Rock Ptarmigan

     
    • © Chris Wood, Adak, Alaska, August 2003

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).