Identification

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 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 blackish base to upper mandible at other times).

In autumn and winter, the blackness of plumage obscured by pale feather fringes and breast band less obvious owing to brownish tips to white feathers. 1st-years in fresh autumn plumage have even broader feather fringes and breast band even less distinct.

However, the Female bird is considerably browner than male, with brownish scaling within breast band and pale scaling on underparts; in autumn and winter is even more prominently scaled. 1st-years in autumn have breast band very obscure, or even absent. Such birds differ from Common Blackbird is 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).

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Readily perches on stone walls, rocky outcrops or scree slopes and trees; will feed on berry-bearing bushes in autumn. It 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 male much sootier than female and with 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 almost obscured, especially in females.

Geographical Variation

Mountains of C and S Europe is inhabited by alpestris which has much broader pale fringes, especially on underparts, and 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.

VOICE

ring ouzel 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, it has bred Faeroes, Belgium, Denmark, Latvia, 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 build nests among rocks, or bushes, laying many pale blue eggs and molted with brown, in a neat cup-shaped nest. As this is omnivorous bird prefers to eat 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 resembling with common Blackbird in size, shape and basic coloration with a prominent white breast band and whitish wing feathers

Also Read: The Orange-Breasted Bunting / The fire-tailed myzornis / The Bar-tailed Desert Lark Dusky Naumann’s Thrush (Turdus eunomus)

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