Fun & Easy Science for Kids
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Ptarmigans – The Color Changing Arctic Birds  

Ptarmigans have several tricks for surviving their cold arctic climate. They have feathers on their legs and feet to keep their feet warm – sort of like bird leg warmers or boots! They also change colors to outwit their predators. In winter, they turn white so they blend in with the snow. In spring, they lose their feathers, or molt, and grow new brown or gold feathers. By fall, the feathers fade to grayish brown.

Ptarmigans on a Rock Image - Science for Kids All About Ptarmigans

Ptarmigans are small birds who can fly, but they stay on the ground most of the time. They gather in protected rocky areas.

Ptarmigans spend most of their time on the ground. Flying takes a lot of energy, which means more food. Because food is scarce in the arctic, ptarmigans don’t move around much. This conserves energy.

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Fun Facts about Ptarmigans for Kids

  • Ptarmigans build nests in spring. The male ptarmigan protects the female until her eggs hatch. Then she’s on her own!
  • Ptarmigans eat mostly plants. They like berries, seeds, grain and tender, young plants. They scrape at snow to get the moss growing underneath.
  • Ptarmigans are hunted in Alaska and other parts of the world.
  • These small birds can fly, but they stay on the ground most of the time. They gather in protected rocky areas.
A Ptarmigan Sitting on its Eggs Image

Ptarmigans build nests in spring. That’s not all about ptarmigans – The male ptarmigan protects the female until her eggs hatch.

Ptarmigan Vocabulary

  1. Survive: live through
  2. Outwit: trick
  3. Energy: fuel
  4. Conserve: save
A Ptarmigan Eating Plants Image

Ptarmigans eat mostly plants. They like berries, seeds, grain and tender, young plants.

Learn More All About Ptarmigans

Watch this video documentary about the ptarmigans:

A documentary of the nature of the ptarmigans.

Ptarmigan Q&A

White Ptarmigan in the Snow Image

During Winter they sleep deep within snow banks. They fly into the snow banks so they don’t leave tracks for a predator to follow.

Question: Where do ptarmigans sleep in the winter?

Answer: Sometimes they sleep deep within snow banks. They fly into the snow banks so they don’t leave tracks for a predator to follow. Pretty smart!

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Question: What animals prey on these birds?

Answer: All the usual suspects – fox, coyotes, bobcats and wolves.

 

Enjoyed the Easy Science for Kids Website all about Ptarmigans info? Take the FREE & fun all about Ptarmigans quiz and download FREE Ptarmigans worksheet for kids. For lengthy info click here.

 

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