White-tailed Ptarmigan: Small grouse, mottled brown overall, white on wings, breast, belly, red eye comb, white-edged brown tail, legs covered with white feathers. It is the smallest of the ptarmigans, and the only one that nests south of Canada. Lives most of its life above timberline.
Range and Habitat
White-tailed Ptarmigan: Common resident in the Canadian and northern U.S. Rockies, ranging from the most northern states southward to northern New Mexico. Found on rocky ridges near the snow line.
The White-tailed Ptarmigan was first described in 1831 by Sir John Richardson, a Scottish naval surgeon, naturalist and arctic explorer.
It has feathers around its nostrils so that the air it breathes in is warmed before it reaches its body.
It may be stressed by warm weather. It can be seen bathing in snow when the temperature is higher than 70° F.
A group of ptarmigan have many collective nouns, including a "congregation", "covey", and "invisibleness" of ptarmigan.
The White-tailed Ptarmigan is the smallest grouse, and is found in mountainous regions of the western United States, Canada and Alaska. This is the only ptarmigan without any black plumage on the tail, hence its name. The preferred habitat for this species is alpine forests, living above the tree line. This bird prefers running on the ground to flying, and its range extends from Alaska and western Canada to northern New Mexico. The White-tailed Ptarmigan is largely a permanent resident of the open country it inhabits. The conservation rating for this species is listed as Least Concern.