Dunnock (Prunella modularis)

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The dunnock (Prunella modularis) is a small passerine, or perching bird, found throughout temperate Europe and into Asia. It is by far the most widespread member of the accentor family, which otherwise consists of mountain species.

A European robin-sized bird, the dunnock typically measures 13.5–14 cm in length. It possesses a streaked back, somewhat resembling a small house sparrow. Like that species, the dunnock has a drab appearance in order to avoid predation. It is brownish underneath, and has a fine pointed bill. Adults have a grey head, and both sexes are similarly coloured.

Distribution and habitat

Dunnocks reside in the more mild western and southern parts of the globe, inhabiting much of Europe including Lebanon, northern Iran, and the Caucasus. Favourite habitats include woodlands, shrubs, gardens, and hedgerows.

The main call of the dunnock is a shrill, persistent tseep along with a high trilling note, which betrays the bird’s otherwise inconspicuous presence. The song is rapid, thin and tinkling, a sweet warble which can be confused with that of the Eurasian wren, but is shorter and weaker.

In migration in spring – autumn.

photo: Mihai BACIU


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