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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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At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
12.6–15.7 in
32–40 cm
Weight
15.5–22.6 oz
440–640 g
Other Names
  • Ptarmigan (British)
  • Lagopède des rochers (French)
  • (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The male Rock Ptarmigan takes longer than the female to change from its white winter plumage into the brown summer garb. During courtship the male is a conspicuous white patch on the brown tundra, visible for kilometers away. The female sitting on the eggs, however, is so well camouflaged that she is difficult to find from less than 2 meters (6 feet) away.

Habitat


Mountains

Open tundra, barren and rocky slopes in Arctic and alpine areas; in winter, some movement to thickets and forest edge.

Food


Plants

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
3–13 eggs
Condition at Hatching
Completely covered with dense down, eyes open. Leave nest within six to 12 hours after the last egg hatches.
Nest Placement

Ground

Behavior


Ground Forager

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

Common and widespread.

Credits

  • Holder, K. and R. Montgomerie. 1993. Rock Ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus). In The Birds of North America, No. 51 (A. Poole and F. Gill, Eds.). Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences; Washington, D.C.: The American Ornithologists’ Union.

Range Map Help

Rock Ptarmigan Range Map
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