Ring Ouzels return to Nidderdale moors from Africa to breed


Apr 6, 2022
A Ring Ouzel bird

Ring Ouzels have returned to the Nidderdale moors to breed after flying back from winter in the Atlas Mountains in North-West Africa.

The birds are a close relative of the Blackbird but are slightly smaller and slimmer with longer tails and a distinctive white crescent across the top of the breast.

In the UK, Ring Ouzels are of high conservation concern and are classified as ‘Red Listed’ after declining by almost 50% in the last 40 years.

The birds are known as the ‘Blackbirds of the mountains’ and enjoy eating juniper berries. The migration route of the birds follow where juniper berries grow.

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Nidderdale Moorland Group posted on its Facebook page that AONB gamekeepers work to ensure the ground-nesting birds can safely incubate and rear their young chicks when they arrive.

Nesting begins from mid-April when the female lays 3-5 eggs in a nest found on the ground or in moorland gullies, craggy screes or rocky areas.

The female will do most of the incubating, but both parents feed the chicks who fledge after 12-16 days.

AONB moorland gamekeepers recorded the birds’ distinctive call last weekend whilst watching a returning male on the moor.

The males like to find a prominent perch from which the strong, flutey song can be heard.

Listen below to the call of a Ring Ouzel.

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