[order] Passeriformes | [family] Prunellidae | [latin] Prunella modularis | [UK] Dunnock | [FR] Accenteur mouchet | [DE] Heckenbraunelle | [ES] Acentor Común | [IT] Passera scopaiola | [NL] Heggemus

Heggemus determination

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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.

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.

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.

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 a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 1,000,000-10,000,000 km². It has a large global population, including an estimated 24,000,000-52,000,000 individuals in Europe (BirdLife International in prep.). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from birdlife.org]

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.

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.