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Willow Ptarmigan - Lagopus lagopus

willow ptarmiganCharacteristics
Life Cycle


 Class: Aves
 Order: Galliformes
 Family: Phasianidae 
 Genus: Lagopus

Willow Ptarmigan

ICUN Redlist - World Status: Least ConcernLeast Concern
    Audio Credit: Andrew Spencer cc logo
Willow PtarmiganThe willow ptarmigan is a small grouse with a red comb over its eyes. The comb is larger in the spring and summer. It has rusty brown feathers on its back, neck and head mixed with white feathers on its wings and stomach. In the winter, it has feathers on its legs and feet that help protect it from the cold and snow. In the winter, it is all white except for a few black feathers on its tail.


mapThe willow ptarmigan's range stretches from Alaska to Labrador and south to central British Columbia, northern Ontario, and central Quebec. It can also be found in parts of northern Asia and Europe. Some ptarmigan populations migrate south in the winter.


Willow PtarmiganThe willow ptarmigan can be found in the tundra and in thickets with alder and willow trees.


Willow PtarmiganIn the summer, the willow ptarmigan eats flowers, buds and insects. In the winter, it eats twigs and buds from willows and alders.


  Life Cycle
Willow PtarmiganThe female lays seven to ten eggs in a hollowed out area on the ground that is lined with feathers and grass. She tries to find a place sheltered by rocks, plants or logs. The male guards the nesting area while the female incubates the eggs. The chicks hatch after about three weeks and they fledge when they are 10-12 days old.


Willow PtarmiganIn the winter, the willow ptarmigan often flies into snow banks and nestles in the snow to sleep. By flying into the banks instead of walking, they don't leave tracks for predators to follow.