Can You Find the Hidden Ptarmigan?

White-tailed Ptarmigan_MtEvans-CO_LAH_6535Last week I mentioned that we’d spent four days at Rocky Mountain National Park. One of the species all birders hope to see there is the White-tailed Ptarmigan. But unlike the Clark’s Nutcrackers, which happily pose at Rainbow Curve, ptarmigan are darned hard to find.

It’s not that they aren’t around. I’m sure there are plenty of ptarmigan on the alpine tundra or hiding in the willow carrs. The problem is that you can never see them—even when looking straight at them!

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Hide and Seek Birding

Long-billed Curlew_PadreIs-TX_LAH_0304Cryptic coloration—the ability of an animal to blend in with its surroundings—has always fascinated me. Cryptic coloration is the reason there are so many brown, striped sparrows. It’s why female ducks and other species lack the bright plumage of their mates. It’s why birds show regional differences. And it’s why I almost missed seeing the Long-billed Curlew shown here.

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