habitat is shrinking
Rock ptarmigan particularly affected by climate change
According to the ornithological station, the prospects for the rock ptarmigan are poor: it is particularly affected by climate change. Its habitat is shrinking because of the rise in the tree line. And new tourism projects in the high mountains are disrupting the bird’s habitat.
Published: 18 minutes ago
In winter, the rock ptarmigan changes into a white, dense winter dress.
The rock ptarmigan needs open areas with little vegetation and a high variety of stones and rock formations in its territory. Habitats with ski slopes, trees and dense vegetation they rarely colonize. “Sacrificing the last remaining natural areas in the high mountains for the expansion of winter sports facilities would be fatal,” wrote the Sempach ornithological station in a press release on Monday.
The population of the rock ptarmigan has been declining since the mid-1990s. Even if no further declines have been observed in recent years, the long-term prospects for the bird are poor, they say. After all, 40 percent of the Central European population breed in Switzerland.
The rock ptarmigan is well adapted to the extreme conditions in the high mountains. If it gets warmer than 15 degrees, it gets too warm and it retreats to shady places. Before winter, the bird changes its brown summer dress into a white, denser winter dress. The toes are then also more feathered, so that the birds can walk better over the snow.