Rock Ptarmigan
Classification

Kingdom:

Phylum:

Class:

Order:

Family:

Genus:

Species:

Animalia

Chordata

Aves

Galliformes

Phasianidae

Lagopus

muta
IUCN Status: Least Concern
Mouseover map to view the approximate
habitat of the Rock Ptarmigan.
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Information


    Located

    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.

    Diet

    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.      

    Habitat

    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.       

    Reproduction

    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.     
Notes

  • Ptarmigans are a food source for many other animals that are found in the tundra, including arctic foxes and
    snowy owls.
  • There are two other species of ptarmigan - the willow grouse and the white-tailed ptarmigan.
(Lagopus muta)
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