Winter Ptarmigan

The winter ptarmigan (the “p” is silent) can be very difficult to see, especially in low light.

Apart from the small dark beak and eyes, they are incredibly white. I have at times mistaken them for lumps of snow, especially when they are on the roads; groups of them will land there.

Completely adapted to their environment, they are white in the winter and a mottled brown in the summer. How many ptarmigan do you see in the photo?

15 thoughts on “Winter Ptarmigan”

    1. They are very cute and even their little feet are covered in white feathers, but these are not very intelligent birds. I have seen ravens or owls pick them off one by one and the others left behind don’t seem to register the danger at all.

    1. That’s an excellent description! They do look like that, and certainly I have mistaken them at times for little snow chunks. Their camouflage is their only defense as I have seen them ignore the predators around them.

    1. Yes, I agree. Their eyes are so small that they could be mistaken for little pieces of grit in the snow. They are indeed fascinating. Their only protection is their camouflage and they seem completely oblivious to danger as a result. I have seen predators picking them off while the remaining birds don’t seem to notice the danger at all. There are no attempts to hide or fly away.

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