The White-tailed Ptarmigan (Lagopus leucura) is a small, ground-dwelling bird that is found in the mountainous regions of western North America. It is a hardy species that is well adapted to life in a harsh alpine environment, where it is able to survive in temperatures of -40°C and above elevations of 12,000 feet.
The White-tailed Ptarmigan is named for the white feathers on its tail, which are usually only visible when the bird is in flight. Its overall coloration is light brown in summer and white in winter, allowing it to blend in with its surroundings and protect itself from predators.
During the breeding season, the male White-tailed Ptarmigan will establish a territory and then engage in courtship displays to attract a female. After mating, the female will build a nest on the ground and lay anywhere from 5 to 10 eggs. Both parents will take turns incubating the eggs for around 21 days until they hatch.
The White-tailed Ptarmigan feeds primarily on leaves, buds, and berries of alpine plants. It will also eat insects during the summer months when they are more abundant. The bird has a specialized digestive system that allows it to extract more nutrients from its food than other birds, which is essential for survival in its unforgiving environment.
The population of the White-tailed Ptarmigan is currently stable, but it is still vulnerable to habitat loss due to climate change and human development. As a result, efforts are being made to monitor the bird's population and protect its habitat in order to ensure its continued survival.