In the case of the ptarmigan the evidence is clear that the existing autumnal feathers do change, more or less completely, to white.
In the northern mountains the ptarmigan is common, and like other creatures assumes a white winter dress; ducks and other water-fowl frequent the lakes; the golden eagle, certain buzzards and owls are found, and among smaller birds the Lappland bunting (Plectrophanes laponicus) may be mentioned.
The willow-grouse (Lagopus albus), the ptarmigan (L.
Americanus), in the arctic fox (Canis lagopus), in the stoat and ermine, and among birds, in the ptarmigan, and some other species of Lagopus.
At high altitudes the mountain plover is found; the dusky grouse haunts the forests above 8000 ft.; the white-tailed ptarmigan is resident in the alpine regions; and on the plains are found the prairie sharp-tailed grouse and the sage-hen.
The avifauna is very rich in migratory water and marsh fowl (Grallatores and Natatores), which come to breed in the coast region; but only five land birds - the ptarmigan (Lagopus alpinus), snow-bunting, Iceland falcon, snow-owl and raven - are permanent inhabitants of the region.
Among game-birds there are the quail (uzura), the heathcock (ezo-rachO), the ptarmigan (ezo-raicho or ezo-yama-doni), the woodcock (hodo-shigi), the snipe (ta-shigi) with two special species, the solitary snipe (yama-shigi) and the painted snipe (tama-shigi)and the pheasant (kiji).
As characteristic birds of the snow-region may be mentioned the alpine chough (Pyrrhocorax alpinus), which is frequently seen at the summits even of the loftiest mountains, the alpine swift (Cypselus melba), the wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria), snow-finch (Montifringilla nivalis) and ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus); the geographical distribution of this last being similar to that of the mountain hare.
Ptarmigan and blackcock are found in many districts, partridges and pheasants are carefully preserved, and the capercailzie, once extirpated, has been restored to some of the Highland forests.
In some cases, as in all the varying hares, in addition to the eyes retaining their normal pigmentation, areas similar in extent and situation to those on the Himalayan rabbits also retain their pigmentation; and in the ptarmigan there is a black band on each side of the head stretching forwards and backwards from the eyeball, and the outer tail feathers are black.