Ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus) Bird Information and Facts

The ptarmigan is a game bird but of no particular consequence. The ptarmigan’s summer plumage is chestnut brown with white primaries, its winter dress is all white with dark tail feathers covered with white upper tail coverts. The legs and toes are covered with feathers that prevent the bird from sinking into soft snow.


Length: 34 cm. The male’s nuptial dress is mostly grey-brown, the female is coloured reddish brown.
Voice: The male utters a sound resembling ‘kraar’.
Size of Egg: 41.2 29.9 mm on the average.

Ptarmigan Bird Inhabit

The ptarmigan inhabits the Alps, Scotland, Iceland and northern Europe. In the mountains, it occurs at elevations up to the snow line in rocky, shrub-grown sites. In the far north, where it is plentiful, it inhabits the tundra. It remains faithful to its breeding grounds, descending from the mountain heights into sheltered valleys only during winter.

Ptarmigan Bird’s Nesting

The nest, sparsely lined with grass stems or leaves, is built in May—June in a hollow in the ground beneath a shrub, in heather or in similar places. At night they take cover beneath a rock, but also build shelters in the snow. They seek places where larger mammals have cleared the snow, thus providing access to food without effort on their part.

Bird’s Breeding

The female lays 8 to 12 eggs, which she incubates alone for 22 to 26 days. By October the young ptarmigans are full-grown, and families congregate in small groups of 15 to 20 birds.


In winter the Ptarmigan bird’s diet consists of seeds and the remains of plants; in spring the ptarmigan nibbles catkins, buds, and, in the Alps, for instance, the buds of rhododendrons. In summer it feeds on berries, insects, their larvae and other invertebrates and in autumn relies mainly on various berries.

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