Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Japan - Ptarmigan With Its Young

Ptarmigan with its young.

Sent by paper, a postcrosser from Nagoya, Japan.

This is from Wikipedia : The Rock Ptarmigan (Lagopus muta) is a medium-sized gamebird in the grouse family. It is known simply as Ptarmigan in Europe and colloquially as Snow Chicken or Partridge in North America, where it is the official bird for the territory of Nunavut, Canada, and the official game bird for the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.

The Rock Ptarmigan is 34–36 centimetres (13–14 in) long (tail 8 cm) with a wing-span of 54–60 centimetres (21–24 in).[4] It is slighter smaller than the Willow Grouse by about 10%.

It is a sedentary species which breeds across arctic and subarctic Eurasia and North America (including Greenland) on rocky mountainsides and tundra. It is widespread in the Arctic Cordillera and is found in isolated populations in the mountains of Scotland, the Pyrenees, the Alps, Bulgaria, the Urals, the Pamir Mountains, the Altay Mountains and Japan. During the last ice age, the species was far more widespread in continental Europe.

The Rock Ptarmigan is seasonally camouflaged; its feathers moult from white in winter to brown in spring or summer. The breeding male has greyish upper parts with white wings and underparts. In winter, its plumage becomes completely white except for the black tail. It can be distinguished from the winter Willow Grouse (Willow Ptarmigan in North America) by habitat — the Rock Ptarmigan prefers higher elevations and more barren habitat; it is also smaller with a more delicate bill.

The male's "song" is a loud croaking. Because of the remote habitat in which it lives, it has only a few predators—such as Golden Eagles-and can be surprisingly tame and approachable.

The Rock Ptarmigan feeds primarily on birch and willow buds and catkins when available. It will also eat various seeds, leaves, flowers and berries of other plant species. Insects are eaten by the developing young.

Rock Ptarmigan meat is a popular part of festive meals in Icelandic cuisine. Hunting of Rock Ptarmigans was banned in Iceland in 2003 and 2004 due to its declining population. Hunting has been allowed again since 2005, but is restricted to November and only for personal consumption, i.e. selling Rock Ptarmigan is illegal.

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