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High-mountain Birds

Classe: Uccelli (Aves)

The high-mountain area, despite its difficult climatic conditions, offers shelter to several animal species. During the good season, the Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus) can be sighted near the upper limit of forests. This thrush with black feathers has a characteristic semi-lunar spot of white feathers on its chest. It builds its nest among the branches of the conifers and, during the winter, migrates towards Southern Europe and Northern Africa. While climbing towards the prairies, in the rocky pastures, the visitor may see another member of the thrush family: the Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe), which continuously moves around on the ground feeding on ground insects. It is curious how this bird, featuring a rusty-red stripe under the eye and having a grey back, jumps about and bows all the time showing its white bottom. This bird too faces long migrations in order to spend the winter on open savannahs in tropical Africa. The rocky or stony areas of the Park also house the Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros), which can be recognized from the continuous and typical downward movement of its tail. It builds its nest in holes in rocks or walls, where it accumulates musk, threads and blades of grass. Its singing is very similar to the noise made when stepping on broken glass or creasing paper. In winter it migrates to the Mediterranean basin, to Asia and India. At high altitudes, the hiker may be attracted by the Snow Finch (Montifringilla nivalis), whose way of flying puts into evidence the white part of its wings. It builds a bowl-shaped nest in crevices and cracks in the rock, but often also nests in shepherds' or mountain huts. Another typical inhabitant of the high-mountain prairies and stony slopes is the Alpine Accentor, which is not very showy and may be easily approached. It nests inside holes or cracks which it fills with musk, twigs, or roots.

High-mountain birds - Ring Ouzel
High-mountain birds - Ring Ouzel
(photo by Ottorino Mazzucco)
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