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1 December 2001 UNUSUAL SUMMER PLUMAGE OF WHITE-TAILED PTARMIGAN
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Abstract
We observed two White-tailed Ptarmigan (Lagopus leucurus) in white winter plumage (basic) in Colorado during late July through August during 35 years of field study. Both individuals were adult (>2 yr of age) females; one was collected and the second examined and photographed. Examination of the plumage revealed that neither had molted from winter plumage into their nuptial (alternate) or postnuptial (supplemental) plumage. We speculate that retention of the white winter plumage was the result of failure of the pituitary and thyroid glands to secrete sufficient hormones to initiate replacement of white body feathers with normal breeding plumage feathers. Perhaps this failure of the pituitary and thyroid glands was not age related but instead gender related. Despite conspicuous white plumage during summer, behavior and survival of both birds appeared normal.
Clait E. Braun and Kathy Martin "UNUSUAL SUMMER PLUMAGE OF WHITE-TAILED PTARMIGAN," The Wilson Bulletin 113(4), (1 December 2001). https://doi.org/10.1676/0043-5643(2001)113[0373:USPOWT]2.0.CO;2
Received: 27 November 2000; Accepted: 1 October 2001; Published: 1 December 2001
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