ring-ouzel



ring-ouzel defined in 1930 year

ring-ouzel - Ring-Ouzel;
ring-ouzel - Black, the feathers edged with greyish white; a large crescent shaped, pure white spot on the throat. Length, eleven inches. Female: plumage greyer; the white mark narrower and less pure.

The ring-ouzel is sometimes called the 'mountain blackbird,' on account of his likeness to the common species. He is more a ground bird and less skulking in habit than the garden blackbird, but in appearance and motions strongly resembles him. On alighting he throws up and fans his tail in the same way, and is very clamorous when going to roost in the evening. His manner of feeding is much the same: hopping along the ground, frequently pausing to look up, and anon plunging his beak into the soil to draw out a grub or earthworm. He breaks the snail-shells hi the same way, and is equally fond of fruits and berries, both wild and cultivated.

The ring-ouzel is a summer visitor to this country, arriving about the beginning of April, and spends the summer months and breeds in the higher, least-frequented parts of Dartmoor, in Devonshire, and the hilly part of Derbyshire, and many localities in the north of England. He is also found in various localities in Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. On their arrival the birds are seen for a short period in flocks, sometimes of considerable size, frequenting wet and marshy grounds. As soon as pairing takes place the flocks break up, and the birds distribute themselves over the mountains and high uplands. The song of the male is heard after the birds have paired and made choice of a breeding-site. It is a powerful song, delightful to listen to, partly for its own wild, glad character, but more on account of the savage beauty and solitariness of the nature amidst which it is usually heard. The nest is placed upon or close to the ground, beneath or in a tuft of heather; and occasionally is built in a low bush or tree. Outwardly it is made of coarse grass or twigs of heather, plastered inside with mud or clay, and lined with fine dry grass. The four or five eggs are bluish green, blotched with reddish brown.

Seebohm has the following spirited description of the ring-ouzel's action in the presence of danger to its nest: ' Approach their treasure, and, although you have no knowledge of its whereabouts, you speedily know that you are on sacred ground.... Something sweeps suddenly round your head, probably brushing your face. You look round, and there the ring-ouzel, perched close at hand, is eyeing you wrathfully, and ready to do battle, despite the odds, for the protection of her abode. Move, and the attack is resumed, this time with loud and dissonant cries that wake the solitudes of the barren moor around. Undauntedly the birds fly around you, pause for a moment on some mass of rock, or reel and tumble on the ground to decoy you away. As you approach still closer the anxiety of the female, if possible, increases; her cries, with those of her mate, disturb the birds around; the red grouse, startled, skims over the shoulder of the hill to find solitude; the moor-pipit chirps anxiously by; and the gay little stonechat flits uneasily from bush to bush. So long as you tarry near their treasure the birds will accompany you, and, by using every artifice, endeavour to allure or draw you away from its vicinity.'

Besides the six species described, there are three thrushes to be found in works on British birds: the black-throated thrush (Turdua atrigularis), a straggler from Central Siberia; White's thrush (T. varius), from North-east Siberia; and the rock-thrush (Monticola saxatilis), from South Europe, a member of a group that connects the true thrushes (Turdus) with the wheatears (Saxicola).

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