Merle, Ouzel Cock
One of Ireland's top-20 most widespread garden birds.
Status: Resident, and winter visitor from Norway, Sweden, Germany & Denmark
Conservation Concern: Green-listed in Ireland. The European population has been assessed as Secure.
Identification: The commonest and most widespread member of the thrush family In Ireland. The males's all black plumage and bright yellow bill is unmistakable, however females are much browner, with speckles on the upper breast and at first glance resemble a Song Thrush. Often cocks long tail when alarmed or when running along ground.
Similar Species: Starling, Song Thrush, Ring Ouzel
Call: One of the favourite songsters. Song is rather slow, mellow and fluty, the notes ranging widely and the sound quite far-carrying. The quality of sound resembles Song Thrush, but the phrases do not repeat, but ramble on continually changing slightly. Calls include an agitated "chink, chink, chink" or "chack, chack..", a whinnying horse-like cry and a thin "psew" .
Diet: Insects, especially earthworms. Also berries and other fruit including apples. Comes to bird tables.
Breeding: Breeds throughout Ireland in many different habitats - mostly in hedgerows and gardens. Nest in trees or bushes - especially brambles and ivy, but also conifers. Will use large open-fronted nestboxes.
Wintering: Irish breeders are largely sedentary. Migrants from the Continent arrive in autumn.
Where to See: Widespread and common throughout Ireland.
Monitored by: Countryside Bird Survey & Garden Bird Survey.