Rock Ptarmigan are a small species of grouse and prefer cold high altitude habitats of rocky tundra or alpine areas depending on their geography. The birds can be found in Scotland, across Northern Europe and into North America.
Both male and female Rock Ptarmigan have small black bills, sleeker bodies than Willow grouse and black tails. During the winter they both have white plummage and the male also has black eye strips and small red combs above his eyes. During spring the birds moult to a slattish grey upperbody with white wings and underparts.
During the winter the Rock Ptarmigan flock together, then in the spring the males form territories in which they perform displays and vocal calls. Mostly the males are monagamous and pair off with a single female and whole breeding season, but some are promiscuous. Clutch size is approx 6-9 eggs (incubation 22 days).
The Scottish Ptarmigan's diet mostly consists of heather and seasonal buds, leaf shoots, various low growing plants and berries in the autumn. In other areas the Ptarmigan's diet is more varied.
Rock Ptarmigan are not that hard to keep and like the other species of grouse I keep they do take a lot more time and effort, especially with diet. Ptarmigan are a shy bird but a lovely grouse to have in any collection, still a good bird for a beginner.