White-tailed Ptarmigan

Lagopus leucura

Order

GALLIFORMES

Family

Partridges, Grouse, Turkeys, Old World Quail (Phasianidae)

Code 4

WTPT

Code 6

LAGLEU

ITIS

ILLUSTRATION

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PHOTOS

CONSERVATION STATUS

Least Concern

The White-tailed Ptarmigan is the smallest grouse, and is found in mountainous regions of the western United States, Canada and Alaska. This is the only ptarmigan without any black plumage on the tail, hence its name. The preferred habitat for this species is alpine forests, living above the tree line. This bird prefers running on the ground to flying, and its range extends from Alaska and western Canada to northern New Mexico. The White-tailed Ptarmigan is largely a permanent resident of the open country it inhabits. The conservation rating for this species is listed as Least Concern.

IBIRD EXPLORER GENERAL

PHOTO SHARING AND DISCUSSION

BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY

SUMMARY

Overview

White-tailed Ptarmigan: Small grouse, mottled brown overall, white on wings, breast, belly, red eye comb, white-edged brown tail, legs covered with white feathers. It is the smallest of the ptarmigans, and the only one that nests south of Canada. Lives most of its life above timberline.

 

Range and Habitat

White-tailed Ptarmigan: This species is a common resident from central and southern Alaska through much of British Columbia and extreme western Alberta south into Washington and Montana. It also occurs in limited areas of California, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico. They prefer rocky ridges near the snow line.

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White-tailed Ptarmigan SONGS AND CALLS

White-tailed Ptarmigan A1

Clucks of female and chirps from chicks.

White-tailed Ptarmigan A2

Display call is a "kuh-kuh-KIR-KIIEER".

Similar Sounding


Voice Text

"ku-kriii kriii", "kuk-kuk-kuk"

INTERESTING FACTS

  • The White-tailed Ptarmigan was first described in 1831 by Sir John Richardson, a Scottish naval surgeon, naturalist and arctic explorer.
  • It has feathers around its nostrils so that the air it breathes in is warmed before it reaches its body.
  • It may be stressed by warm weather. It can be seen bathing in snow when the temperature is higher than 70° F.
  • A group of ptarmigan have many collective nouns, including a "congregation", "covey", and "invisibleness" of ptarmigan.

SIMILAR BIRDS

RANGE MAP NORTH AMERICA

About this North America Map

This map shows how this species is distributed across North America.

FAMILY DESCRIPTION

TERMINOLOGY

CREDITS

Author

Gary Owen Dick

Artist

Irina Rud-Volga

HELP ME IDENTIFY A BIRD

BACKYARD BIRDING

BIRDS AND BIRDING

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BellyX
The ventral part of the bird, or the area between the flanks on each side and the crissum and breast. Flight muscles are located between the belly and the breast.
BreastX
The upper front part of a bird.
CombX
Only found in male birds and consists of a colored area over the eye. A well developed comb can also signal (sexual) health to a potential mate.

ChestX
Also called the breast area, it is the frontal area on the body containing the breastplate and major flight muscles.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X