In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). The Cornell Lab will send you updates about birds, birding, and opportunities to help bird conservation. Willow Ptarmigan is a common and widespread species. Willow Ptarmigan are hunted for food in many parts of their range. Willow Ptarmigan are usually easiest to find in spring, when the birds (especially males) perch in bushes and on fence posts or walk almost defiantly along roads, tolerating close approach. The interior of the nest averages about 7 inches across and about 4.7 inches deep. Unlike other ptarmigans, the male stays with the female and defends its nest-it is known to attack anything that comes to close. Plump, chickenlike bird often found near willows; also resides in more open tundra. Willow Ptarmigan: Small grouse, winter adult is all white with dark-edged tail and small orange-red eye combs. Its range is too far north for studies like the North American Breeding Bird Survey to track population trends. HABITAT Willow ptarmigan favor summering sites in the tundra, the alpine tree line boundary and mountain slopes. The willow ptarmigan inhabits alpine- and arctic tundra habitats in the northern hemisphere and is listed as near threatened (NT) in the Norwegian red list due to declining population size. Willow Ptarmigan are highly territorial in spring. The willow ptarmigan is the largest of three “Arctic grouse” found in Alaska, which also include the rock and the white-tailed ptarmigan. Females probably select nest sites, which are on the ground among shrub thickets (willow, fir, or birch), often with overhanging vegetation. They can be found from the northern Brooks Range south throughout Southeast Alaska. Three species are present in North America: the Willow Ptarmigan Lagopus lagopus, the White-tailed Ptarmigan Lagopus leucurus, and the Rock Ptarmigan Lagopus mutus. In wintertime, the birds nest in willow trees and sheltered valleys. In North America, most Willow Ptarmigan pair with the same mate in consecutive breeding seasons. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY, USA. Habitat Tundra, willow scrub, muskeg. Range and Habitat Rock ptarmigan occur throughout most of Alaska. 2017. Description Ptarmigans are hardy members of the grouse family that spend most of their lives on the ground at or above the treeline. Sibley, D. A. A master of camouflage, the Willow Ptarmigan is snowy white in winter and an intricate mix of reds and browns in summer. Females arrive in breeding areas about 2 weeks later than males and watch singly or in small groups as males display. After the young fledge, adults in some areas move upslope, to molt into winter plumage at higher elevations. Pairs stay close to each other during courtship; males guard the females through incubation, which relatively few bird species do. Habitat models provide information about which habitat management should target to avoid species extinctions or range contractions. Young birds eat much the same plant matter as adults. As with many bird species that nest in subarctic and arctic habitats, climate change may have significant negative impacts on the habitats and thus populations of this species. They inhabit most of their range during winter, and can be found roosting and feeding together during this time. Aptly named, this common northern grouse is closely associated with thickets of dwarf willow on the tundra at all seasons. Males also call and erect their red eye-combs, and females appear to select males with larger combs and more energetic displays. Willow Ptarmigan have a simple diet of plant matter, primarily flower buds, catkins, leaves, twigs, berries, and seeds. Rock ptarmigan are the only Alaskan ptarmigan species to occur on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA. This rotund grouse of subarctic tundra lives year-round in areas where most bird species can survive only during the warmer months. Habitat The willow ptarmigan can be found in the tundra and in thickets with alder and willow trees. In mid-August, male ptarmigan are a patchwork of four sets of feathers: a few old winter feathers on the wings, new white feathers on toes and belly, and parts of the light spring and darker summer feathers. In the winter, females and sub-adults may move to lower altitudes and seek shelter in … Leave nest within six to 12 hours after the last egg hatches. The female makes a depression with her feet, lining it with moss, grass, leaves, and feathers. Most species and subspecies also live in alpine ecosystems, which are higher and colder than trees can grow. In some cases, they return to breeding territories to feed until winter weather compels them to migrate southward or downslope. Willow ptarmigan habitat occupancy increased with the areal extent of willow thickets, whereas it decreased with increasing degree of thicket fragmentation (i.e. In summer, they also eat whatever insects are available, both from the ground and low vegetation. Generally found north of timberline, in lower wet tundra with abundant thickets of dwarf willow. Diet In the summer, the willow ptarmigan eats flowers, buds and insects. During the breeding season, Willow Ptarmigan inhabit subarctic and subalpine habitats where there is abundant shrubby vegetation, usually places below 6,000 feet elevation. Willow Ptarmigan forage slowly and deliberately, walking slowly and taking foliage with the sharp bill, gleaning insects, and plucking berries. Avian Conservation Assessment Database. It occurs in isolated pairs at the beginning of the nesting season, but gathers in flocks in winter.