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White-Tailed Ptarmigan

Also Goes By: Snow Partridge

As the smallest grouse in North America, the White-tailed Ptarmigan is about 12 inches in length and weighs between 11 to 17 ounces. This bird molts for a seasonal color variation, having a white body in the winter and a brown mottled body with white wings, tail and belly in the summer months. This bird’s name is derived from the fact that it is the only Ptarmigan that does not have a black tail. It can be found in a wide range of alpine forests in Alaska and a few high elevations in the lower 48.

The White-tailed Ptarmigan subsists mainly on willow buds during the winter months. Although its diet will become more variable in the warmer months with the addition of insects, knotweed forb flowers and leaves, the willow remains a dietary staple year round. As a result they can usually be found in moist areas above the timberline.

These birds are wonderful to hunt with a canine companion and a 20 gauge shotgun should help a hunter fill their limit. 

Photo Courtesy of John Hill.
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