ID tips by James Anderson of Durham Bird Club.
Ring Ouzels are one of the six species of thrush found in the UK and the only one which migrates here to breed. Two other thrushes, the Fieldfare and Redwing, migrate here from Scandinavia and other parts of the European mainland to over-winter. The Ring Ouzel is a bird of the uplands which is reflected by the local name of “Fell-thrush” and it has probably become the iconic song bird of the moorlands.
The selection of photographs shows the differences between the adult male and adult female Ring Ouzels and a recently fledged juvenile.
Ring Ouzel Pair
The first photograph is typical of the view which many of us get of Ring Ouzels – a black bird with a white crescent on its chest and a sighting from a long way off. The male ouzel is perched on top of the post with the female on the gate – she has a less striking appearance. However not all distant white dots are ouzels; witness the Roe Deer in the background.
Male Ring Ouzel
This male has the characteristic appearance of a Ring Ouzel with its very white gorget (breast band). It appears to be dark overall, rather like a Blackbird, but the wing panel tends to be noticeably paler than that of its cousin.
Female Ring Ouzel
This foraging female shows the characteristic scaling of the body feathers and the duller gorget which is due to the white feathers having dark fringes (as opposed to the pale fringes of the body feathers).
Juvenile Ring Ouzel
Finally we have a fairly recently-fledged juvenile which could very easily be mistaken for a young Blackbird particularly given the location. After all ouzels are birds to be encountered in the remotest upland areas aren’t they?
To find out about Ring Ouzel distribution in the North Pennines, click here.