Irish Ring Ouzel Survey 2021

Ringed Ouzel

You Can Help!

The Ring Ouzel, a thrush of mountain crags, boulder scree and wild landscapes, one of the most threatened breeding bird species in Ireland. Ring Ouzels are summer visitors to Ireland from their winter quarters in the Atlas Mountains of North Africa. The species was once widespread enough in Ireland to have been found breeding in all but four counties in breeding habitat but has since declined so much so that by the first Irish & British Breeding Atlas (1968-72) its range had contracted to just 8 counties. This catastrophic decline has continued and the species appears to be largely confined as a breeder to just two counties: Donegal and Kerry. However, Ring Ouzels are elusive though the males are very vocal and the species may breed in a few other remote locations outside the core areas. Changes in land use such as a reduction in heather cover due to intensive grazing over decades appear to be important factors in the species decline although other factors such as climate change, recreational disturbance and predation may also be impacting the tiny remnant population here.

Thus, to get an accurate picture of the Ring Ouzel population in Ireland, and thanks to funding from the National Parks & Wildlife Service, a national survey is planned in the Republic of Ireland in 2021. This survey will build on previous survey work carried out twenty years ago in North-west Ireland as well as more recent surveys in the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks in Kerry to search for and hopefully locate breeding Ring Ouzel in counties Donegal, Kerry, Sligo, Waterford and Wicklow. The survey also plans to better understand the species conservation needs in Ireland so that urgent action can be taken to save the species as a breeding bird here. In addition, we hope that a greater focus on the plight of the species as one of Ireland’s most endangered breeding bird might generate reports from other parts of the country such as Connemara or the Burren, where birds would have bred in to recent times.  You can help the survey effort by sending any sightings of Ring Ouzels to