White-tailed Ptarmigan

Click on links on the left to view photographs. Please do not use any photos without permission of Jim Bailey.


Birder Group Shot
Ptarmigan Male
Ptarmigan Female
Where's Waldo?




Dennis Shirley invited all interested Utah birders to join the Utah Ornithological Society (UOS) on a field trip to track down the elusive WHITE-TAILED PTARMIGAN on the high talus of 12,028 foot Leidy Peak in the eastern end of the Uinta mountain range on August 7, 2004. 

A total of 14 hardy souls turned out for the event. They included Tuula Rose, Milton Moody, Dana Green, Lu Giddings, Dennis Shirley (expedition leader), Pomera Fronce, Steve Carr, Alton Thygerson, Jim & Judy Bailey, Kathleen Roach, Leena Rogers, Bryan Shirley, and Steve Sommerfield.

The weather at 7am was beautiful, without a cloud to be seen and awesome vistas in every direction. Under Dennis Shirley's knowledgeable leadership, the group spread out to traverse the talus in a counterclockwise direction toward the north. At around 8:30am, at elevation 11,500 feet, the first ptarmigan was spotted. We waited a few minutes for the group to gather so all could see the bird before proceeding any further.

We soon had spotted a number of the ptarmigans, including male, female, and juvenile birds. The estimate was around 10-12 individuals. For most of the group, this was a life bird.

This is a very interesting bird in that it is so well camouflaged against the rocks and grassy slopes. It would be extremely difficult to spot them if they did not move. In fact, staying motionless appears to be their main line of defense. It was quite easy to approach very close to the birds without seriously disturbing them. Click on the Where's Waldo link to see what I mean.

For those into GPS and topo maps, click on the Topo link for exact coordinates of where we first spotted the birds. Remember, however, that all birds are fickle by nature and may choose to relocate without giving notice; e.g., the elusive Purple Gallinule.



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This site was last updated 08/10/04