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Journal Article

Cryptic Behaviour in Moulting Hen Willow Ptarmigan Lagopus l. lagopus during Snow Melt

Johan B. Steen, Kjell Einar Erikstad and Karsten Høidal
Ornis Scandinavica (Scandinavian Journal of Ornithology)
Vol. 23, No. 1 (Jan. - Mar., 1992), pp. 101-104
Published by: Wiley on behalf of Nordic Society Oikos
DOI: 10.2307/3676433
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3676433
Page Count: 4

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Topics: Hens, Snow, Plumage, Molting, Pigmentation, Melting, Territories, Food, Animal camouflage, Predators
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Cryptic Behaviour in Moulting Hen Willow Ptarmigan Lagopus l. lagopus during Snow Melt
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Abstract

We studied feeding behaviour of hen Willow Ptarmigan moulting from white winter plumage to pigmented summer plumage during the progress of snow melting. While still mostly white, the hens usually sat on the snow while feeding on protruding willow and dwarf birch; when partly pigmented on the back, they preferred the border zone between snow and bare ground; and when mostly pigmented they fed exclusively on bare ground. When, due to snow thaw, the hens could no longer reach the protein rich willow, they fed on the protein poor but lower dwarf birch. The results suggest that the hens' feeding strategy during snow melting is a compromise between food quality and optimal camouflage.

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