British wildlife recordings
Prunella modularis : Dunnock - Prunellidae
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Old Dean Common, Camberley, Surrey: OS Grid Reference(488500,162500)
Williams, Aubrey John
Dunnock, Prunella modularis
The song of the dunnock recorded on Old Dean Common, Camberley, Surrey. Although also called the hedge sparrow, the dunnock is the only British representative of the 'accentor' family. This common garden bird is the size of a house sparrow, with a thin pointed bill, rich brown upperparts that are streaked and a blue-grey head and breast. It is often seen creeping around on the ground feeding like a mouse. The dunnock breeds in a variety of different habitats, including gardens, scrub areas and farmland with hedges. Most food is collected from the ground where the dunnock feeds on a wide range of invertebrates, berries, seeds, and even grain. It is a bird with an unusual mating strategy - some males are proprietorial over two females, other females have two or more males, and in extreme cases, several males may even share several females. Nesting begins in March with the cup-shaped nest often being built from fine twigs, leaves, hair, and moss in a dense hedge, and two or three broods are raised most years. In Britain, the dunnock is very sedentary, rarely moving more than 1km throughout the year. The current population is estimated at 2,100,000 territories, and despite a fall in the 1970's and 1980's, the numbers are fortunately thought to have stabilised.