Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus)


Ring Ouzel is resembling with common Blackbird in size, shape, and basic coloration. However, at all ages, pale edges to wing feathers make wings appear paler than the rest of the birds in flight. The male bird is distinctive; sooty-black overall with a prominent white breast band and greyish or whitish (in race amicorum) fringes to wing feathers. The bill is yellow with a blackish tip in the breeding season (also shows a blackish base to the upper mandible at other times).
In autumn and winter, the blackness of plumage is obscured by pale feather fringes, and breast bands less obvious owing to brownish tips to white feathers. 1st-years in fresh autumn plumage have even broader feather fringes and breast bands even less distinct.
However, the Female bird is considerably browner than the male, with brownish scaling within the breast band and pale scaling on the underparts; in autumn and winter is even more prominently scaled. 1st-years in autumn have breast bands very obscure, or even absent. Such birds differ from Common Blackbirds having to scale on body plumage and pale edges to wing feathers.
Beware partial-albino Common Blackbird with white breast band, but calls, wing pattern, and body scaling should prevent confusion. A bird of the open country, shy and wary, usually flying considerable distances when flushed uttering harsh ‘chakking’ call (quite unlike calls of Common Blackbird).
Readily perches on stone walls, rocky outcrops, or scree slopes and trees; will feed on berry-bearing bushes in autumn. Ring ouzel is usually solitary on breeding grounds but forms small parties on migration and in winter.

Sex and Age

In fresh plumage, colors dulled by pale feather fringing, but males were much sootier than females and with a more obvious breast band (sullied brown). Juvenile spotted like young Common Blackbird, but less rufous, with underparts scaled whitish and pale edges to wing feathers. Moreover, 1st-years have broader pale edges to body feathers when fresh (in autumn) than respective adults and breast bands are almost obscured, especially in females.

Geographical Variation

Mountains of C and S Europe are inhabited by alpestris which have much broader pale fringes, especially on underparts, and the belly appears whitish even in spring. Birds of the Caucasus and E Turkey, amicorum, have wing feathers very broadly pale-fringed, appearing almost pale-winged in flight.


Ring Ouzel’s usual call is very hard ‘tak-tak-tak’, sometimes prolonged into a rattling chatter. Song far-carrying, consisting of several clear, melancholy piping notes (e.g. ‘tu-li tu-li tu-li’), often followed by a chuckle.

Status and Habitat

In addition to the mapped range, Ring ouzel has bred Faeroes, Belgium, Denmark, Latvia, and Estonia.) In breeding season, mountainsides, quarries, rocky outcrops, and moorland gullies and ravines, locally even on coastal cliffs. Winters both on dry, scrubby hillsides and in open oak woodland. On passage, also in lowland hedgerows, coastal pastures, etc.

Nesting and Diet

The Ring ouzel usually builds nests among rocks, or bushes, laying many pale blue eggs and molted with brown, in a neat cup-shaped nest. As this is an omnivorous bird prefers to eat a wide range of insects, small rodents, seeds, invertebrates, adult larval beetles, reptiles, earthworms, and berries.
Ring Ouzel resembling with common Blackbird in size, shape and basic coloration with a prominent white breast band and whitish wing feathers
Ring Ouzel resembles with common Blackbird in size, shape, and basic coloration with a prominent white breast band and whitish wing feathers
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