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Rock Ptarmigan
(Lagopus muta)


    The rock ptarmigan is circumpolar and can be found in
    many areas north of the Arctic Circle, including countries
    such as Russia, Sweden, Canada, Iceland and
    Greenland.  In some instances they may be found further
    south in places like Japan.


    Adult ptarmigans will feed on leaves, flowers, berries,
    buds, twigs and other types of vegetation.  Young
    ptarmigan chicks will also be fed insects in addition to


    Rock ptarmigans can often be found in elevated, rocky,
    sloped areas of the tundra.  Females and chicks may
    prefer areas with brush to protect them from predators,
    while males may prefer open, barren areas to assist
    them in locating predators and other ptarmigans.         

Size and Description

    Rock ptarmigans measure between 12 - 16 inches in
    length.  The Rock ptarmigans may molt several times a
    year and will change colors when it does so.  During the
    summer months, they will have a spotted brown color
    with males shedding their white winter plumage later than
    females.  This allows the males to be spotted by females
    easily against the brown tundra, but also allows them to
    be seen by predators.  Females are extremely difficult to
    spot in the summer, even from close distances.  In the
    winter both sexes shed their brown plumage for an
    almost pure white coat.  Males have a red comb over
    their eyes.       


    Females will lay between 6 - 10 eggs and will then
    incubate them for about 3 weeks.  The male will leave the
    female, eggs and nest at some point during the
    incubation period, and the female will complete the
    raising of the chicks on her own.  The chicks will acquire
    feathers, also known as fledging, in about 10 - 12
IUCN Status:
Least Concern
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Galliformes
Family: Phasianidae
Genus: Lagopus
Species: muta
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