RSPB Scotland’s Allie McGregor shares five facts about ring ouzels.

5 facts to know about ring ouzels

Where do they live?

Ring ouzels arrive in the UK, primarily in North England and Scotland, in around April each year and breed in upland areas. They favour places such as steep-sided valleys, crags and gullies.

At their breeding grounds they sing their desolate fluting song.

Blackbird lookalikes

Ring ouzels can be mistaken for blackbirds as they have a similar size, shape and colouring.

Male ring ouzels are easier to distinguish - particularly distinctive with their black plumage with a pale wing panel and striking white breast band. Female ring ouzels also have a breast band but it may be a less distinct shade of white.

What’s in a name?

Ring ouzels have many alternative English names, some of which make reference to their bright white collar. Other names it has been known by include ‘heath throstle, mountain colley and hill chack.

In some specific places (Dorset) they are also known as the ‘Michaelmas thrush’ due to their passing through around September or October as they leave the UK.

Our longest living ringed ouzel

The UK’s longest-lived ring ouzel ever, whom we’ve fondly titled our ‘super ouzel’, returned to its Aberdeenshire breeding place for ten consecutive years from 2008 - 2018. The super ouzel has reared over 50 chicks in the years we’ve been monitoring him!


The super ouzel himself. Credit: Innes Sim

You can learn more about him in this blog

Where do they go in winter?

When ring ouzels leave the UK , sometimes quite late in the year, they mainly head towards Southern Spain and North Africa to places like the mountains of Morocco and Tunisia.

You can find out more about ring ouzels on our website.

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