The Ptarmigan, Lagopus mutais a medium-sized (31-35 cm or 12-14 inches) gamebird in the grouse family. It is known as Rock Ptarmigan, or colloquially Snow Chicken in North America, where it is the official bird for the territory of Nunavut, Canada.
It is a sedentary species, breeding across arctic and subarctic Eurasia and North America (including Greenland) on rocky mountainsides and tundra. There are 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 (Tomek & Boche?ski 2005)
The Ptarmigan is seasonally camouflaged; its feathers moult from white in winter to brown in spring or summer. Breeding males have greyish upper parts with white wings and underparts. In winter, plumage becomes completely white except for the black tail. They can be distinguished from the winter Willow Grouse (Willow Ptarmigan in North America) by habitat - Rock Ptarmigan prefer higher elevations and more barren habitat; they are also smaller in size with a more delicate bill.
The male's "song" is a loud croaking. Ptarmigan feed primarily on birch and willow buds and catkins when available. They will also take various seeds, leaves, flowers and berries of other plant species. Insects are also taken by the developing young. In the mountains of Honsh?, Japan, the Ptarmigan is called raichou (literally "thunder bird") and according to legend protects people and buildings from fire and thunder.