Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Clade: Inopinaves
Order: Passeriformes
Suborder: Passeri
Family: Prunellidae
Genus: Prunella
Species: P. modularis
Binomial name
Prunella modularis
(Linnaeus, 1758)



Dunnock, Prunella modularis is a species of accentor in the Prunellidae family. It is mostly found in Europe and parts of the Middle East. It was introduced to New Zealand.[1]

Other names

Hedge Sparrow,[2] Dunnock Accentor, European Dunnock, Hedge Accentor, Hedgesparrow, Hedge-Sparrow.[3]


Similar species

Cheaters Always Prosper

Cheaters Always Prosper

Cloacal pecking of the Dunnock


It is a slim, streaked bird that feeds unobtrusively on the ground; flitting up to a perch, to utter its quiet, repeated single note.[4] Rather shy and retiring in summer.[5] Flight jerky, light and springy.[5]


Insects in the summer, seeds in the winter.[4]



Its nest made of grass and moss, lined with finer fibre, placed in a hedge or bush.[4]

Males are promiscuous and will mate with several females, unaware that the females are acting in a similar fashion, mating with a number of males.[6]

Males try to ensure their paternity during courtship by pecking at the cloaca of the female to stimulate her to eject the sperm of other males with whom the female has recently mated.[7] Dunnocks take just one-tenth of a second to copulate, and have sex more than 100 times a day.[8] This was shown in an episode of The Life of Birds.[9]




  1. ^ Heather, Barrie; Rogertson, Hugh (2005). The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand (Revised ed.). Viking Press. 
  2. ^ "hedge sparrow". Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged. 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003. Retrieved 19 April 2012.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. ^ Denis Lepage. "Prunella modularis". Avibase. Retrieved 19 April 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c Harrison, Colin and Greensmith, Alan (1993). Birds of the World. Dorling Kindersley Inc. ISBN 1564582965. 
  5. ^ a b Mullarney, Killian; Lars Svensson, Dan Zetterström and Peter J. Grant (1999). Birds of Europe. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691050538.  Cite uses deprecated parameter |coauthor= (help)
  6. ^ Frances, Peter; et al. (2007). Bird: The Definitive Visual Guide. Dorling Kindersley Inc. ISBN 1564582957. 
  7. ^ Davies, N. B. (1983). "Polyandry, cloaca-pecking and sperm competition in dunnocks". Nature. Nature Publishing Group. 302 (5906): 334–336. doi:10.1038/302334a0.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  8. ^ Birkhead, Tim (2012). Bird Sense, 1st edition. Walker & Company. ISBN 0802779662. 
  9. ^ "Finding Partners" (in English). Sir David Attenborough (presenter). The Life of Birds. BBC/PBS. Retrieved on 22 April 2012.

External links

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.