White-tailed PtarmiganLagopus leucura
- ORDER: Galliformes
- FAMILY: Phasianidae
White-tailed Ptarmigan are small, tubby grouse, snow-white in winter and twig-brown in summer. They’re famous for being virtually invisible when they stand still against the windswept rocks, low shrubs, and snowbanks of their high-mountain habitat. They nest above timberline in the alpine tundra of western mountains, and are the only birds in North America that spend their entire life cycle in these very high elevations. Their feathered feet and dense plumage enable them to walk on top of snow and even roost inside snowbanks.More ID Info
Year-roundBreedingMigrationNonbreedingRange map provided by Birds of the World
- Lagópodo Coliblanco (Spanish)
- Lagopède à queue blanche (French)
- Cool Facts
- The White-tailed Ptarmigan leads a sedentary lifestyle in winter, conserving precious energy by avoiding flight and often roosting in snowbanks.
- White-tailed Ptarmigan are so well adapted to the cold that warm weather can stress them out. When the temperature tops 70°F (21°C) they may cool off by bathing in snow.
- In parts of the Yukon, Canada, White-tailed Ptarmigan share habitat with the larger Rock Ptarmigan. Surprisingly, the smaller male White-taileds are dominant over male Rock Ptarmigan, chasing them from their territories.
- The plural of ptarmigan, originally a Scottish Gaelic word, is ptarmigan.
- The longevity record for a White-tailed Ptarmigan is 15 years.