BIRDS OF ICELAND : Lagopus mutus, ptarmigan's

Lagopus mutus; ptarmigan's are common birds on Iceland. They are a major food source for predators like the gyrfalcon and, the winter visitor, the snowy owl. In many regions they are also hunted by men and there they are quite shy. Where they are not hunted, like on the island of Hrisey near Akureyri or nature parks like Skaftefell, they are much more tame. The males moult 4 times a year where the female moults 3 times a year. The opening photo shows a male in late spring. During winter they are all white except for a black tail end and black eye line. During summer they have reddish-grey top parts. During winter and spring they have characteristic large red eye combs which become reduced after the mating season. They are residential ground dwelling birds which can be found in all vegetated lands (scrubs etc.). Ptarmigan's feed on berries, buds, germinating seeds and insects when available. Different regional subspecies are recognized in Europe, and Greenland.

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A brief introduction to Iceland birds
Text & Photographs by Dick Vuijk
- unless stated otherwise

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Show other photo's of the Ptarmigan:
 Late spring: a male.
 In early spring: a female still in winter cloak.
 Late spring: a female.
 Reload first photo of male in winter cloak

 Late spring: a male.
 Early spring: female still in winter cloak.
 Late spring: female.
 Reload first photo

 Push on photo for full size