Characteristics. Habitat. Babies. Food. Life Cycle. Inuit Uses. The Ptarmigan. By Caely Gr.4. Where I got my Info. CHARACTERISTICS.
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Ptarmigans are small chicken like birds. They have two colors depending on the season. They are brownish white with dark stripes in summer, but are completely white in winter. In summer, they blend into tundra plants and look like shadows, but in winter, they look like the snow. Ptarmigans look just like small grouse, weighing from 10 ½ ounces to 1 ½ pounds, except that their toes are feathered, their wings are white all year, and they pure white body plumage in winter.
Ptarmigans live in alpine and Arctic tundras throughout the northern hemisphere. There are three kinds of Ptarmigan and they are all found in Alaska. They also have scattered in the lands of Japan, Switzerland, and Spain. The White- Tailed Ptarmigan also scatter along the lands of Yukon, and New Mexico.
All Ptarmigan nests are getting made soon after the snowmelts. Hens usually lay six to ten eggs, which are incubated for three weeks or less weeks. Hatching takes place in late June and early July throughout Alaska. The male Willow Ptarmigan stays with the family and doesn’t hesitate to defend the brood, but male White- Tailed and Rock Ptarmigan leave the care of chicks entirely to hens. The chicks grow with amazing speed. They can get off the ground from 9 to10 days old and get off the ground to flying when they are 8 to 10 weeks old.
When snow covers the ground, Willow Ptarmigan eat willow buds, willow twigs, and a little birch. Rock Ptarmigan nip off birch catkins, birch buds, and a little willow.
White -tails mix buds and catkins of willow, and alder in varying amounts. This diet lasts until well along in the courtship period of Spring, giving way as snow melts to a blend of insects, berries, new leaves, and flowers.
Ptarmigans move in flocks, and there is often about several hundred during the migration. Autumn is a time of restlessness. In October they tend to form a pattern the females, drift lower down into brushy forest openings while cocks stay close to Timberline. The extent of the fall movements varies from place to place, but migrations of 100 to 150 miles one way propably are the longest undertaken by any ptarmigans in Alaska.
Among the Alaskan natives, both Eskimo and Indian, especially those in the northern two thirds of the Territory, this bird is one of the most important sources food supply and through the entire winter it is snared and shot in great abundance, and many times it is the only defense Eskimo possess against the ever recurring periods of scarcity and famine.