Subject: ptarmigan
Date: Sep 30 08:59:11 1994
From: Eugene Hunn - hunn at u.washington.edu


MORE WHITE-TAILED PTARMIGAN SIGHTINGS

Howard Armstrong's account in _Washington Birder_ of his experiences
birding the high peaks of the Cascades motivated me to review my
records likewise. I can't claim to have seem ptarmigans at
20 locations, but have over a dozen sightings from eight
locations. Curiously, there is no overlap between Howard's
list and mine. I add records from King, Pierce, and Lewis
Counties to his more northerly spots.

County
Location
TRS
Elev.
Date
Number

Okanogan
Slate Pk
37N-17E-1
7300'
9-2-73
13

Okanogan
Slate Pk
37N-17E-1
7300'
8-5-78
2a

Okanogan
Slate Pk
37N-17E-1
7300'
7-24-84
1m

Snohomis
h
Glacier Pk
30N-13E-7
6500'
6-26-83
1m

King
Snohomish Pk
23N-11E-
28
5800'
6-21-80
3

King
Big Snow Mt
24N-11E-
26
6500'
9-21-94
1f,2i

Pierce
MRNP:Sunrise:
Burroughs Mt
16N-9E-6
7500'
8-22-73
1f,4i

Pierce
MRNP:Sunrise:
Burroughs Mt
16N-9E-6
7500'
9-7-78
4

Pierce
MRNP:Paradise
: Nisqually
Moraine
15N-8E-12
6300'
9-7-84
1f,4i

Pierce
MRNP:Paradise
: Golden Gate
15N-8E-12
6900'
9-12-85
5

Pierce
MRNP:Paradise
: Golden Gate
15N-8E-12
6900'
9-10-88
2a,2i

Pierce
MRNP:Paradise
: Golden Gate
15N-8E-12
6900'
9-10-89
3

Pierce
MRNP:Paradise
: Golden Gate
15N-8E-12
6900'
9-9-90
1f,3i

Pierce
MRNP:Success
Cleaver
15N-8E-4
7500'
8-22-83
signs

Lewis
Old Snowy Mt
12N-11E-
20
7500'
8-9-88
signs


I can't add much to Howard's habitat characterization,
except that ptarmigans in summer at least are restricted to
a narrow elevational range at and above the upper margin of
timber, occasional lower where an adjacent glacier "lowers"
the upper timberline, as along the Nisqually moraine. They
seem to require fairly extensive alpine flats where
sufficient sedges and other low alpine herbs grow. I found
a family group virtually every year between 1985 and 1990
above Paradise on the flats between the Golden Gate trail
junction and below Panorama Pt. I believe in late snow
years the resident pair may not have nested making them
particularly difficult to find. The Slate Peak birds
likewise could be predictably found just below or east along
the ridge from the lookout, though some years I was unable
to locate them there. They were reported there again this
past summer. Other locations seem more marginal, as near
the summit of Tiffany Mtn. (8200') northeast of Winthrop.
There is an extensive area of ideal habitat here, but they
have only rarely been reported despite frequent visits by
birders.

Eugene Hunn
1816 N. 57th St.
Seattle, WA 98103

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