Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
| Lagopus mutus|
(Montin , 1781)
The Ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus) is a small (31-35 cm) bird in the grouse family. It is a sedentary species, breeding across subartic Eurasia on rocky mountainsides and tundra. There are isolated populations in the Pyrenees, the Alps and the mountains of Scotland.
The Eurasian spring male has greyish upperparts with white wings and underparts. North American birds are more variable, being generally browner, but with Aleutian birds almost black. The North American females are brown. In winter, both sexes become completely white. They can be distinguished from the winter Willow Grouse (Willow Ptarmigan in North America) by habitat, smaller size, more delicate bill and, in the winter male, black between the eye and bill.
The male's song is a loud croaking.
The female takes all responsibility for nesting and caring for the chicks, as is typical with gamebirds.
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