The Ring Ouzel Turdus torquatus (hereafter referred to simply as Ouzel) is a true specialist of the UK’s upland and montane areas, spending the summer on hillsides, in steep valleys and among crags, where it replaces the closely related Blackbird T. merula. Numbers have fallen sharply over the last few decades and research is beginning to shed light on the reasons for this decline. This article describes Ouzel ecology, as well as recent research and conservation activity.
A ‘chack chack’ call rings out across the hillside; you glimpse a dark shape before it flies out of view. This is often the first indication that there is an Ouzel around, and such brief encounters are not uncommon: this species is shy. Catch it in the open, though, and you will find yourself watching a Blackbird with added extras.