White-tailed Ptarmigan

Lagopus leucura




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

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Pink or buff with brown blotches or small spots

Number of Eggs:

3 - 9

Incubation Days:

22 - 24

Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

On rocky ground.

Nest Material:

Lined with leaves, grass, and lichens.





White-tailed Ptarmigan: Small grouse, mottled brown overall with white on wings, breast, and belly, red eye comb, white-edged brown tail, and legs covered with white feathers. Female has black bars on belly and smaller comb. Winter adult is completely white, including tail; eyes and bill are black. When molting, white feathers are irregularly scattered over darker areas.

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.

Breeding and Nesting

White-tailed Ptarmigan: Three to nine brown-blotched or spotted, pink or buff eggs are laid among rocks in a ground depression lined with grass, lichens, small leaves, and feathers. Incubation ranges from 22 to 24 days and is carried out by the female.

Foraging and Feeding

White-tailed Ptarmigan: Feeds on seeds, buds, flowers, and fruits of willows and other alpine plants; occasionally eats insects.


White-tailed Ptarmigan: Male gives a high-pitched "ku-kriii kriii" and low "kuk-kuk-kuk." Female utters low clucks when brooding chicks.

Similar Species

White-tailed Ptarmigan: Willow Ptarmigan and other ptarmigans have black on tails.

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