Ring ouzel

Ring ouzel

Ring ouzel ©Margaret Holland

Ring ouzel

Scientific name: Turdus torquatus
The blackbird of the mountains, ring ouzels can be found breeding on upland moors and rocky crags in summer.

Species information


Length: 24cm
Wingspan: 40cm
Weight: 110g
Average lifespan: 2 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Red under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2015).

When to see

March to November.


Ring ouzels are black and white thrushes, similar in appearance to a blackbird. They spend the winter in Spain and northwest Africa, returning to the uplands of the UK to breed in the summer. Nesting often begins in late April, with two broods of chicks being common. Males sing from prominent crags and boulders, claiming a territory with their beautiful but desolate song. They have a varied diet that includes worms, insects and berries.

How to identify

Ring ouzels are roughly the size and shape of a blackbird. Males are mostly black, with a broad white crescent across the breast and white edging to the wings and some body feathers, which gives them a scaly look. Females are similar, but the black is often more brownish, and the white parts duller.


Breeding birds are found in upland areas of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England, particularly in the north. During spring and autumn migration, birds are often found away from these areas, especially on the south and east coasts of England.

Did you know?

Ring ouzels have many alternative English names, most of which make reference to their bright white collar. One exception is the name Michaelmass Blackbird, given in Dorset where flocks would appear around the time of Michaelmass in autumn.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts are working to restore and protect our heathlands by ensuring breeding birds are not disturbed, promoting good management, clearing encroaching scrub and implementing beneficial grazing regimes. This work is vital if these habitats are to survive; you can help by supporting your local Wildlife Trust and becoming a member or volunteer.