Dunnock (Prunella modularis)


[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Prunellidae | [latin] Prunella modularis | [UK] Dunnock | [FR] Accenteur mouchet | [DE] Heckenbraunelle | [ES] Acentor Comun | [NL] Heggemus


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Prunella modularis EU w, sw, also nw Africa
Prunella modularis euxina
Prunella modularis fuscata
Prunella modularis hebridium
Prunella modularis mabbotti
Prunella modularis meinertzhageni
Prunella modularis modularis
Prunella modularis obscura
Prunella modularis occidentalis

Physical charateristics

The dunnock is a relatively small bird that has an average length of 15 centimeters, and weighs about 19 grams. Like other accentors, its beak is pointed and slender and its feet and legs are sturdy. The dunnock can have a blue-gray head and breast, and a light and dark brown back with streaks, brown-streaked flanks, and pink legs. The under parts of the dunnock tend to be uniformly gray with apricot markings.

Listen to the sound of Dunnock


Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 19 cm wingspan max.: 21 cm
size min.: 13 cm size max.: 15 cm
incubation min.: 12 days incubation max.: 13 days
fledging min.: 11 days fledging max.: 13 days
broods: 2   eggs min.: 4  
      eggs max.: 7  


Eurasia : West, Southwest, also Northwest Africa


The dunnock resides in woods that have an ample amount of undergrowth, as well as in the hedges and shrubbery at the edges of forests. They also thrive in farm areas that have a lot of vegetation, and in the gardens of villages.


Dunnocks are known for their secretive behavior and tend to be shy in their habits. Most of the populations are migratory. During breeding season, they are seen either as individuals or in pairs. During the winter they tend to gather in large flocks in order to forage for food?with a good food source, a hundred or more might gather. The bird’s voice is heard in a short but complex song that is composed of a succession of rapid and even notes and trills.

Breeding season for dunnocks runs approximately from the beginning of April to the end of July, generally raising two broods a year. The incubation period lasts from twelve to fourteen days, and the young are ready to fly about eleven to thirteen days after they are hatched. Both male and female parents care for the young. Dunnocks are sometimes polyandrous breeders, with a female mating with several males within the breeding territory. In that case, it is usual for all of the parties involved to raise the young.

Feeding habits

Dunnocks are omnivores, eating various invertebrates such as insects, spiders, and worms during warm months. In the winter they survive on seeds and berries, some of the various kind of seeds are in feeders meant for songbirds in gardens and backyards.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Prunella modularis is a widespread breeder across much of Europe, which constitutes
>95% of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is extremely
large (>12,000,000 pairs), and was stable between 1970-1990. Although there were
declines in France and Sweden during 1990-2000, populations increased or were
stable elsewhere in Europe, and the species remained stable overall.
Dunnock status Least Concern


Resident, partial migrant, and, in northern and central Europe, total migrant. Main continental populations, especially those breeding in northern areas (Fenno-Scandia, northern Germany, Poland, and northern FSU east to Urals) and to lesser extent those from southern areas (central France to Corsica, Sardinia, and central Italy), move to winter in south-west Iberia, Mediterranean area, southern FSU, and Turkey. Considerable passage to Mediterranean islands, but apparently rather rare in North Africa, and only at all regular in northern Tunisia. Movement on wide front and close to a north-east/south-west axis. Main migration periods September-November and March-April.

Distribution map

Dunnock distribution range map

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