Study Group




About Ring Ouzels

Interesting Facts

  • Ring ouzels were once (still are?) called Michaelmas thrushes on the Isle of Portland (Dorset) on account of their arriving during early late September - October on their southward migration. The great naturalist of the 18th century, Gilbert White of Selborne, also referred to ouzels arriving at Michaelmas.
  • An old Scots name for the bird is aiten chackart (ie chat of the juniper; aitionn = Gaelic for juniper; chackart = Scots for chacking bird).
  • 750+ migrating ring ouzels were counted in just over 2 hours at Margate, Kent in Autumn 1998.
  • Ring ouzels generally nest in trees on the continent, whereas they generally don’t in Britain, preferring to nest under heather or bracken instead.
  • Although earthworms usually make up the bulk of their diet in spring and summer, they feed largely on juniper berries in winter.
  • Very occasionally, individual ring ouzels have been known to spend the winter in Britain.
  • Ring ouzels are now extinct as a breeding species in Galloway (south-west Scotland), whereas that region was a stronghold for them up until the late 1980s.
  • There are three races of ring ouzel, varying in the extent of white fringes to the (black/dark brown) body feathers. Britain and Fennoscandia have the nominate race torquatus which has the least white; race alpestris of continental Europe have more extensive white fringes on the body and flight feathers, whilst race amicorum of southern Turkey, Turkmenia and northern Iran, has a larger white crescent and even more extensive white fringes to the feathers than the latter.

Copyright RSPB 2011