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TOOLIK FIELD STATION, ALASKA– We often encounter ptarmigan hidden among the lichen-covered rock and tundra plants at Toolik Lake. Ptarmigan live year round in the Arctic. They are well camouflaged in both the winter and summer seasons. In the summer, their plumage is brown with dark stripes. However in winter, they are completely white to blend into the snow-covered landscape.

We rarely know a ptarmigan is near, until a quick movement reveals its presence. While ptarmigan do fly, we most often see them walking on the tundra foraging on plants and berries.

To catch a glimpse of a ptarmigan, watch this video.

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  1. Do you know how Chicken, Alaska got it’s name, and why ptarmigan feet are feathered????What and how do they eat when the tundra is covered with snow? How long can they go without eating? Also, what is the ecological relationship between birds and the plant community?