Lagopus mutus


Whilst a national bird of Canada, in the British Isles the Rock Ptarmigan is exclusively found in the Scottish highlands. Mature birds eat seeds, berries, nuts and leaves whilst juveniles also eat invertebrates. When breeding, males usually mate with one hen, producing one brood a year of around 7 eggs.

How to identify

These small grouse-like birds can be difficult to spot. In the winter they have thick snow-white plumage which they moult in the summer; becoming brown, grey and black flecked to camouflage with the highland rocks.

Where to find it

Scottish Highlands.


When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Ptarmigans live isolated in harsh conditions so to see them you have to be patient and prepared to travel through treacherous terrain. Whilst thriving in its own habitat, the Wildlife Trusts work closely with farmers and landowners to promote wildlife-friendly practices that benefit the ptarmigan. We are working towards a 'Living Landscape': a network of habitats and wildlife corridors across town and country which are good for both wildlife and people. You can support this greener vision for the future by joining your local Wildlife Trust.

Species information

Common name
Latin name
Lagopus mutus
Length: 34-36cm Wingspan: 54-60cm Weight: 400-600g
Conservation status
The ptarmigan is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List.