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Dunnock

Prunella modularis

Key Facts

  • Length: 15cm
  • Wingspan: 20cm
  • Weight: 21g
  • Average Lifespan: 2 years

The dunnock is a small bird, about the size of a robin, which is common in gardens, parks, hedgerows, scrub and along woodland edges.

Dunnocks are shy birds, hopping about in low vegetation and around the edge of lawns, feeding on small insects, worms and seeds. When two males meet, however, they become animated with territorial calling and wing-flicking. Males and females will form strong pairs but the female will still mate with another male, so neither male know who the father is and both supply her chicks with food. They nest in hedges or shrubs, laying up to five eggs.

How to Identify

Streaky brown and grey bird with a dark grey head and a thin bill.

Where to Find

Widespread.

How People Can Help

Recent declines in populations of dunnocks and other, once-common, birds can be attributed to increased development, changing agricultural practices and habitat loss. But many birds have a lifeline in the form of our gardens – together, they make an area larger than all our National Nature Reserves and form a patchwork across town and country that helps our wildlife to move about, feed and breed. To find out more about gardening in a wildlife-friendly way, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there’s plenty of facts and tips to get you started. To buy bird food or feeders, visit the Vine House Farm website – an award-winning wildlife-friendly farm which gives 5% of all its takings to The Wildlife Trusts.

Did you know?

The dunnock is also sometimes known as the ‘hedge sparrow’. However, it’s not a sparrow but a member of a small family of birds called accentors.

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