Climate response surface
The Ptarmigan has an Arctic-Alpine breeding distribution in Europe, occurring in the Pyrenees and Alps, as well as in Scotland, Iceland, north and west Fennoscandia and Svalbard. BWP also maps it breeding in the Kola Peninsula and northern Urals. Beyond Europe its circumpolar Arctic distribution extends across northern Asia to Kamchatka and the Bering Sea, the Kuril and Aleutian Islands, North America from Alaska to Labrador and north to Ellesmere Island, and Greenland. It also breeds in the mountains of British Columbia, east-central Asia and Japan. It inhabits cold exposed places with open rocky or stony terrain, its preferred habitat comprising a mosaic of rocks, areas of moss and lichen heath, dwarf shrubs and Salix herbacea (Least Willow). It nests on the ground, usually partly sheltered by a stone or dwarf shrub. It feeds mainly upon leaves, buds, berries, seeds and catkins, various species being favoured in different areas according to their availability. A resident, it can dig for food in snow with its feet, although moving to lower altitudes during periods of severe weather, and especially of deep snow cover, at higher altitudes.