Family Thrushes (Turdidae)

Least Concern

Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus)


French: Merle à plastron German: Ringdrossel Spanish: Mirlo capiblanco

Turdus torquatus


, 1758,



Recent analysis of mtDNA fragments of museum specimens from across Europe#R revealed little differentiation (thus incomplete lineage-sorting) between the two W races, but both, as well as populations of low mountain ranges, were characterized by private alleles (alleles unique to a [sub]population); further, when sequenced specimens were grouped according to origin (an alpine group, a group from low mountain ranges, and two N groups), significant differentiation between alpine and low-mountain groups (similar to that between alpine and the two N groups) was evident, suggesting that low-mountain populations have origin similar to that of arctic–alpine disjunction, and that these populations are remnants of a once broader distribution#R. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • T. t. torquatus Linnaeus, 1758 – Northern Ring Ouzel – Ireland, W Britain, W & N Scandinavia and NW Russia (E to Kola Peninsula; recently found breeding farther E in N Timan Mts, Arkhangelsk region#R); winters in S Europe and NW Africa.
  • T. t. alpestris (C. L. Brehm, 1831) – Alpine Ring Ouzel – mountain ranges of N Iberian Peninsula and C Europe E to Carpathians, Balkans, Greece and W Asia Minor, also N Africa (possibly Algeria); in winter also N Africa, S Europe and S Turkey.
  • T. t. amicorum E. J. O. Hartert, 1923 – Caucasian Ring Ouzel – C & E Turkey (E from Taurus Range), Caucasus area, N Iran (Elburz Mts) and SW Turkmenistan (Kopet Dag); in winter also C & S Iran, parts of Iraq and occasionally Sinai and Arabian Peninsula.
  • Descriptive notes

    23–24 cm; 90–138 g. Male nominate race is all black except for bold white crescent-shaped breastband, narrow greyish scaling (sometimes absent above) on mantle,... read more


    Song, by male from elevated perch (or even heather clump) and sometimes in display-flight, a series... read more


    Mountain steppe with conifers, including wet spruce (Picea) and spruce-fir woodland (P... read more

    Food and feeding

    Invertebrates, seeds, fruits. Foods include adult and larval beetles (Coleoptera) of at least 13 species, adult and larval flies (Diptera)... read more


    Mid-Apr to mid-Jul in British Is and Alps; in Scandinavia, early May to end Jun in S and late May to early Aug in N; sometimes double-... read more


    Migratory. British and N European breeders (nominate race) appear to winter mainly in S Spain and... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Locally common. Total population in Europe in mid-1990s estimated at 247,032–355,281 pairs, with additional 1000–10,000... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. & Christie, D.A. (2020). Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 22 February 2020).