Rock Ptarmigan (Lagopus muta)

The Rock Ptarmigan bird is a beautiful and hardy species that is found across the northern half of the globe, from Canada to Scandinavia and Russia. Its scientific name is Lagopus muta, which translates from Latin to mean "mute hare-footed rabbit." This name perfectly captures the bird's unique features and behavior.

As a member of the grouse family, the Rock Ptarmigan is a medium-sized bird, typically weighing between 1 and 2 pounds (450-900 g). Its plumage is distinctively mottled and camouflaged, with a mixture of brown, gray, and white feathers that provide excellent concealment in its rocky and snowy habitats. In the winter, the bird's plumage turns white, except for its tail, which remains black.

One of the most remarkable adaptations of the Rock Ptarmigan is its feathered feet. These enable the birds to move over snow and ice with ease, much like snowshoes. They also act as insulation, keeping the bird's feet warm and dry in freezing temperatures. This feature is especially important for ptarmigans, as they are often found in alpine and arctic regions, where the ground is covered with snow for much of the year.

Rock Ptarmigans are monogamous birds, with pairs typically staying together for many years. They are also highly territorial, defending their nesting and feeding areas vigorously against other birds. During the breeding season, males engage in elaborate territorial displays, flapping their wings and making booming calls to attract females. Females lay between 6 and 10 eggs in a shallow scrape lined with plant material. The eggs hatch after about 21 days, and the chicks are precocious, able to walk and feed themselves within hours of hatching.

Rock Ptarmigans are primarily herbivores, feeding on a variety of plants and seeds. They are known to store food in their crops, which allows them to survive in areas with limited food availability. They are also an important prey species for predators such as foxes, eagles, and owls.

Overall, the Rock Ptarmigan is a fascinating and adaptable bird that is uniquely adapted to life in some of the most inhospitable environments on the planet. Its mottled plumage, feathered feet, and territorial behavior make it a beloved and iconic species in the northern regions of the world.

Other names

Lagopus muta



Rock Ptarmigan

perdiu blanca



alpska snježnica

bělokur horský




Lagopède alpin


Pernice bianca


tundrinė žvyrė


pardwa górska


Тундряная куропатка

Alpska snežnica

snehuľa horská

Lagópodo alpino


Dağ Kar Tavuğu

куріпка тундрова


havasi hófajd


klinšu teteris