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 vegetation.
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.
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
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 days.