Study Group




Help identifying Ring Ouzels

For those who are not familiar with Ring Ouzel markings, shape and behaviour, it is easy to confuse a Ring Ouzel with a leucistic Blackbird. Leucism is fairly common in Blackbirds and they can easily be mistaken as Ring Ouzels.

Male Ring Ouzels are like Blackbirds, but with a conspicuous white breast-band and pale fringes to the wing feathers. Female Ring Ouzels are similar but the chest-band is duller and its plumage browner. Both the male and female Ring Ouzel are obviously scaly underneath and have pale edges to their wing feathers making the wings paler than the body.

Click here for a very informative bird identification workshop video on the BTO website which helps to show the distinguishing features of the Ring Ouzel and the Blackbird.

Other distinguishing markings include:
- The leucistic Blackbird may have a very noticeable yellow bill and yellow circled eye.
- The Ring Ouzel has pale whitish/silvery edges to the wing. You should see the paler area on the primary feathers when in flight.
- The Ring Ouzel’s distinctive crescent shaped white chest-band is on the upper breast rather than on the throat.
- The female Ring Ouzel is browner and the chest-band dirtier than the male.

The following photo of a leucistic Blackbird was taken Ms.Ting Lan Chiee in Rhossili, Swansea, West Glamorgan, in February 2024.

The following photo of a leucistic Blackbird was taken by Jenny Armstrong in Cally Woods, Galloway in February 2016


The following photo of a leucistic Blackbird was taken by Mark Kalra in Mansfield on 18th January 2013. Note the speckling on the throat, lack of silver panels in the wings, and pure white panel of the gorget against brownish plumage.
Female Ring Ouzels are quite brownish, but their breast panel is more cream coloured. Male Ring Ouzels have whiter gorgets, but tend to be black elsewhere.


Some "ouzel like" birds are actually variably coloured Blackbirds The two photos below were taken by Peter Robinson in Finningley near Doncaster in December 2015 and are good examples of variably coloured Blackbirds.

The following photos of a leucistic Blackbird were taken by Graham Hill in his garden in Gillingham Kent in early winter 2011.

Photo by Graham Hill

Photo by Graham Hill

Photo by Graham Hill

Other photos of leucistic Blackbirds are shown below.


Copyright RSPB 2011