Churchill River - Cold comfort
How the tiny ptarmigan survives winter
The willow ptarmigan does not migrate to warmer weather in winter. Instead,
this tiny member of the grouse family has evolved a set of unique features that
allow it to survive the harsh Labrador winter.
Its pure-white winter plumage is excellent camouflage against the snow. The
bird's nostrils are protected from the freezing cold by a cover of feathers.
It even grows feather snowshoes that give it enough stability to tug small branches
from beneath the snow.
The willow ptarmigan burrows into the snow for two good reasons: to benefit
from the insulation against cold air, and to hide from predators.
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