Ring Ouzel

Turdus torquatus

23-24cm

Appearance

The Ring Ouzel may be compared to the Blackbird, but it is more slender and has longer wings. The sexes are different. Males are mostly a sooty black, apart from the white patch on the breast and the silvery margins to many feathers on the wings. The bill is yellowish, the legs are dark, and the flanks may have pale marks that give a scaly effect, particularly towards the end of summer. Female is quite similar, but she is more brown than black, and her crescent marking is less obvious and is more buffish. Juveniles have pale margins on their feathers which give a scaly effect, they don't yet have the pale section on the breast, and they're mottled brownish overall with spotting. When flying, the wings of the Ring Ouzel can appear more pale than the torso.

Habitat

Breeding territories are regularly close to water, and include moorland, mountains, forests and abandoned quarries. Common stopovers during migration include grassy areas by the coast, provided there's thick vegetation nearby. At other times in may be in rather remote locations. When in the region, the Ring Ouzel is most commonly in upland areas of Wales, and northern England and Scotland.

Character

Is very territorial and protective when nesting. Stands upright, may have informal colonies when nesting, and may migrate alone or in groups. Male competitors sing over one another from perches in their territories.

Food

Diet includes beetles and their larvae, flies, worms, spiders, and berries from elder, hawthorn, white-bryony and blackberry.

Breeding

Female lays 3 to 5 eggs at the end of April or start of May, and she incubates them (with very occasional help from male) for 13-14 days. Both adults tend to hatchlings, which fledge at about 12-16 days old. A second brood is sometimes raised.

Population

The British breeding birds arrive at their breeding territories around April, and birds who breed in Europe visit in May. Approximately 6200-7600 pairs are in the UK and less than 250 in Ireland.

Observation Tips

The Ring Ouzel can be difficult to observe due to its timid nature, and its tendency for remote and inhospitable habitats; a telescope is recommended. Best observed in the breeding season.

Voice

Has a 'chuck' call when alarmed, and a 'tak, tak, tak' call. The song is loud and flute-like, involving notes, phrase and stoppages.
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