Daily Archives: April 1, 2010


THE DUNNOCK:  Latin Name: Prunella modularis

Dunnock, Hedge Sparrow, Hedge Accentor

This little bird has had three names,  dunnock, hedge sparrow and hedge accentor.

Dunnocks often go unnoticed as they are dull coloured little birds.  They spend a lot of time on the ground or on fences, flying  in a jerky way and usually at low level

Also have a jerky movement when on the ground and are often flicking the wings and tail.

Feeding:  weed seeds, insects,  kitchen scraps.
Dunnocks look for food under hedges, lawns, along the edges of fields, garden feeders – usually ground feeders

The dunnock is mostly a ground feeder – searching for insects among the leaves on the ground

I get a lot of dunnocks in my garden.  They are shy little birds and can be easily missed as they flit about at the ground feeder and then quickly go into the hedgerow


  • Brown above,   which is streaked with soft black ,
  • ash grey face and breast. 
  • Dunnocks have a fine bill of an insect eating bird, but they do eat small seeds in winter.

The dunnock is a difficult bird to identify.  It takes a lot of observation.  More details  –
The fine bill is one of the ways of identifying ig.  Sparrows have thick bills
The head ash grey colour which is not streaked.  The grey goes from the head to the breast
The sides of the underparts are streaked
The tail is plain brown

Habitat  Gardens, hedgerows. scrub,  towns, villages, farmland – virtually everywhere

Dunnock looking for food

Dunnock looking for food

Song  tseep – call.  Short and fast.  Has been described as ‘squeeky’

The dunnock does not breed in pairs.  They  breed in groups.  The groups could be 3 males and three  females, but two females with two males are  usual

In the breeding season male dunnocks defend ‘their land’against other dunnocks by singing

Eggs:  4 to 5    Colour: Blue
Cuckoos often take over a dunnocks nest.  The cuckoo has a speckled egg and the dunnocks eggs do not have any markings – but the dunnock does not notice this

Incubation: 12 days. 

Often has two broods

Fledging: 12 days

Nest: Built by the female in shrubs and hedges.  Built from twigs an moss and lined with moss and hair

Size:  Length:  14cm.  Wingspan is 20cm


I still often get sparrows and dunnocks mixed up – but this doesn’t matter.  It is just interesting to try and identify  them sometimes.

Dunnocks like to feed near the shelter of bushes and garden plants – they must feel safe there and to me they seem secretative birds as they hop about undercover.

A lot of the photographs on Bird Table News have been taken by me but this time I could not get any s0 – Photographs by istockphoto

If you have any information or stories about dunnocks please add to this fact sheet.