Endangered Species
Mountain-Prairie Region
Southern White-Tailed Ptarmigan

white-tailed ptarmigan

The southern and Mt. Rainier white-tailed ptarmigan are small birds that live in high elevation, alpine environments, where wind and cold temperatures prevent the growth of trees. The birds spend their entire lifecycle in these alpine habitats and are well adapted to the cold, arid, and open environments. Both the southern and Mt. Rainier white-tailed ptarmigan are white in winter and brown in summer, the feathers changing color with the seasons to camouflage the birds. Heavily feathered feet act as snowshoes to support the white-tailed ptarmigan as they walk across the snow, rather than fly, to conserve energy. Cool temperatures, rocky areas, soft snow, and the presence of willows, a primary food source, characterize the alpine habitats of the southern and Mt. Rainier white-tailed ptarmigan.

Last updated: June 7, 2012