Willow Ptarmigan

Lagopus lagopus




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

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Yellow with brown splotches

Number of Eggs:

5 - 17

Incubation Days:

21 - 22

Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

On ground.

Nest Material:

Lined with grass and feathers.


Most do not migrate



Willow Ptarmigan: Small grouse with rust-brown upperparts, head, and breast, white eye-ring, orange-red eye comb, and white wings, belly, and leg feathers; tail is brown with darker edges. Female is brown overall with heavy white bars and white eyebrows. Winter adult is all white with dark-edged tail and small orange-red eye combs.

Range and Habitat

Willow Ptarmigan: Resident from throughout Alaska across northern Canada to Labrador and south across much of British Columbia, into northern Ontario, and central Quebec; also found in parts of northern Asia and Europe. Winters in the southern parts of its range. Inhabits tundra and thickets with alder and willow trees.

Breeding and Nesting

Willow Ptarmigan: Five to seventeen brown splotched, yellow eggs are laid in a ground hollow lined with feathers and grass. Incubation ranges from 21 to 22 days and is carried out by the female.

Foraging and Feeding

Willow Ptarmigan: Feeds on flowers, buds, and insects. Eats twigs and buds from willows and alders in the winter.


Willow Ptarmigan: During the courtship display, male makes harsh barking "go-back, go-back, go-back."

Similar Species

Willow Ptarmigan: White-tailed Ptarmigan has a white tail. Rock Ptarmigan is smaller, has black eye-line, and is more gray-brown than rust brown.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
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.
The upper front part of a bird.
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.

Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X