Willow Ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopus)
FTLComm - LaRonge - Monday, December 10, 2007

Though from time to time we probably all have seen white prairie chickens I have associated these arctic grouse with. . . Canada's arctic. They were extremely common in the Yukon when we lived there and I recall a visit to Yellowknife and the hotel I stayed in was the Ptarmigan Inn.

There are three varieties of Ptarmigan all have pretty much prairie chicken like feathers for the summer months, but for winter they turn white. The most common and those found here in Saskatchewan, like those we spotted Sunday in LaRonge are Willow Ptrarmigan, who like to hang out in scrub and valleys whereas the Rock Ptarmigan who look very much like their Willow buddies in the summer have cool racoon like black eye patches in their winter outfits. The third species are slightly smaller and prefer alpine settings so they are native to Alaska, Yukon and through B.C. all the way into the mountainous region of the northwestern United States. The Rock Ptarmigan seem to like the open tundra and areas where there is little cover.

Timothy W. Shire

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