Dunnock

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February 19, 2014
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Dunnock

Dunnock sat on the stone wall in my wildlife garden.

Dunnock sat on the stone wall in my wildlife garden.

The dunnock (Prunella modularis) is also known as the 'hedge sparrow' although it is not related to either the tree sparrow or the house sparrow. It is in fact an 'Accentor' so it should really be called a 'hedge accentor'. The accentors are in the only bird family, Prunellidae, which is endemic to the Palearctic. This small group of closely related passerines are all in a single genus Prunella. All but the Dunnock and the Japanese Accentor are inhabitants of the mountainous regions of Europe and Asia. It is a small brown bird (150mm) with no distinctive colouring or markings and both sexes look alike. The underside is grey and this grey creeps up either side of the neck and onto the front of the head where it blends in with the brown of the crown. The legs are orange and some birds have a very bright orange ring in the eye. I'm not sure if this is a distinction between male and female or just the way the light catches the eye in certain lighting conditions (see pictures below).

They are common in gardens where they spend a lot of time on the ground searching through the undergrowth for insects and seeds while constantly twitching their tails; and will frequently visit bird tables for wild bird food.

Nest: The nest is made of moss wool grass and hair and sometimes feathers and is usually found in a bush or hedge. Eggs: The eggs are bright turquoise-blue with no markings. There are normally 4 or 5 eggs which are laid in March to June.

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