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File:Lagopus diversity.png
All species of Lagopus
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Superorder: Galloanserae
Order: Galliformes
Family: Phasianidae
Subfamily: {{{1}}}
Tribe: {{{1}}}
Genus: Lagopus
Brisson, 1760

Lagopus lagopus
Lagopus leucura
Lagopus muta
Lagopus griseonota[made-up sp.]

This article contains made-up species!
This article contains made-up species not found on Earth. They will be highlighted in pink.

Lagopus is a small genus of birds in the grouse subfamily. It contains three existing species.


The distinctive British form of Willow Ptarmigan, the Red Grouse (Lagopus lagopus scotica) has sometimes been considered a separate species, L. scotica, but this is no longer accepted.

Two prehistoric species and two paleosubspecies are only known from fossils:


The three species are all specialists of cold regions. Willow Ptarmigan is a circumpolar boreal forest species, White-tailed Ptarmigan is an North American alpine bird, and Ptarmigan breeds in both Arctic and mountain habitats across Eurasia and North America. They are sedentary species, all, with the exception of the Red Grouse, having a white winter plumage that helps them blend into the snowy background. Indeed, even their remiges are white, while these feathers are black in almost all birds (even birds that are predominantly white, such as the Bali Myna) because melanin makes them more resilient and thus improves flight performance, the Lagopus grouse apparently found it easier to escape predators by not being seen than by flying away.

These are hardy vegetarian birds, but insects are also taken by the developing young. In all species except for the Willow Ptarmigan, the female takes all responsibility for nesting and caring for the chicks, as is typical with gamebirds.

The genus name Lagopus is derived from Ancient Greek lagos (λαγως), meaning "hare", + pous (πους), "foot", in reference to the feathered feet and toes typical of this cold-adapted group (see also Snowshoe Hare). The specific epithets muta and leucura were for a long time misspelt mutus and leucurus, in the erroneous belief that the ending of Lagopus denotes masculine gender. However, as the Ancient Greek term λαγωπους is of feminine gender, and the specific epithet has to agree with that, the feminine muta and leucura are correct.[4]




  1. ^ "Lagopus lagopus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2013. {{cite web}}: Invalid |ref=harv (help)
  2. ^ BirdLife International (2016). "Lagopus muta". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2016 (errata version published in 2017): e.T22679464A113623562. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22679464A89358137.en. Retrieved 18 March 2018.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  3. ^ "Lagopus leucura". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2013. {{cite web}}: Invalid |ref=harv (help)
  4. ^ David & Gosselin (2002)


  • David, Normand & Gosselin, Michel (2002): The grammatical gender of avian genera. Bull. B. O. C. 122(4): 257-282.
  • Madge, Steve; McGowan, Philip J. K. & Kirwan, Guy M. (2002): Pheasants, partidges and grouse : a guide to the pheasants, partridges, quails, grouse, guineafowl, buttonquails and sandgrouse of the world. Christopher Helm, London. ISBN 0-7136-3966-0

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