Puneet Varma (Editor)


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Kingdom  Animalia
Subfamily  Tetraoninae
Phylum  Chordata
Rank  genus
Family  Phasianidae
Scientific name  Lagopus
Higher classification  grouse
Order  Galliformes
Lagopus Rock ptarmigan Wikipedia

Lower classifications  Rock ptarmigan, willow ptarmigan, White‑tailed ptarmigan

Red grouse lagopus scotica

Lagopus is a small genus of birds in the grouse subfamily, commonly known as ptarmigans. The genus contains three living species with numerous described subspecies, all living in tundra or cold upland areas.


Lagopus Hinterland Who39s Who Ptarmigan

Red grouse lagopus lagopus scotica


Lagopus Whitetailed Ptarmigan Audubon Field Guide

The genus name Lagopus is derived from Ancient Greek lagos (λαγος), meaning "hare", + pous (πους), "foot", in reference to the feathered feet and toes typical of this cold-adapted group (such as the snowshoe hare). The specific epithets muta and leucura were for a long time misspelt mutus and leucurus, in the erroneous belief that the ending of Lagopus denotes masculine gender. However, as the Ancient Greek term λαγωπους is of feminine gender, and the specific epithet has to agree with that, the feminine muta and leucura are correct.

The English-language name ptarmigan is derived from the Scottish Gaelic tàrmachan.


Lagopus Willow ptarmigan Wikipedia

The three species are all sedentary specialists of cold regions. Willow ptarmigan is a circumpolar boreal forest species, White-tailed ptarmigan is a North American alpine bird, and rock ptarmigan breeds in both Arctic and mountain habitats across Eurasia and North America. All, with the exception of the red grouse, have a white winter plumage that helps them blend into the snowy background. Even their remiges are white, while these feathers are black in almost all birds (even birds that are predominantly white, such as the Bali myna) because melanin makes them more resilient and thus improves flight performance. The Lagopus grouse apparently found it easier to escape predators by not being seen than by flying away.

Lagopus httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonsthu

These are hardy vegetarian birds, but insects are also taken by the developing young. In all species except for the willow ptarmigan, the female takes all responsibility for nesting and caring for the chicks, as is typical with gamebirds.


Lagopus Willow Ptarmigan Audubon Field Guide

The distinctive British form of willow ptarmigan, the red grouse (Lagopus lagopus scotica) has sometimes been considered a separate species, L. scotica, but this is no longer accepted.

Fossil record

Two prehistoric species and two paleosubspecies are only known from fossils:

  • Lagopus atavus (Early Pliocene of Bulgaria? - Late Pliocene)
  • Lagopus balcanicus (Late Pliocene of Varshets, Bulgaria)
  • Lagopus lagopus noaillensis (Pleistocene of W Europe)
  • Lagopus mutus correzensis (Pleistocene of W Europe)
  • References

    Lagopus Wikipedia