Birda Logo
Species Guide
A photo of a Dunnock (Prunella modularis)


Prunella modularis

The dunnock, Prunella modularis, is a small passerine bird, akin in size to the familiar robin. It is the most widespread member of the accentor family, with a presence throughout temperate Europe and extending into Asian Russia. The dunnock's plumage is rather unassuming, with a streaked back reminiscent of a house sparrow, and a subdued brownish underside. Both sexes share a similar coloration, including a grey head, and adults are equipped with a fine, pointed bill.

Identification Tips

One may distinguish the dunnock by its frequent wing flicking, a behavior particularly noticeable during territorial disputes or mating competitions. This action has earned it the colloquial name "shufflewing." Additionally, the dunnock's shrill, persistent 'tseep' call and high trilling notes can reveal its otherwise inconspicuous presence.


Dunnocks favor a variety of habitats including woodlands, shrublands, gardens, and hedgerows. They are often found foraging on the ground, where they exhibit a preference for detritivores.


Native to Eurasia, dunnocks inhabit much of Europe and have been successfully introduced to New Zealand. They are the only accentor commonly found in lowland areas, with others preferring mountainous regions.


Dunnocks are territorial birds, with males sometimes sharing a territory and establishing a strict dominance hierarchy. Female territories are typically exclusive, but in some cases, multiple males may cooperate to defend a territory with several females. The distribution of food resources can influence the size of female territories and, consequently, the mating system.

Song & Calls

The dunnock's main call is a sharp 'tseep', accompanied by a high trill that can betray the bird's presence. Its song is a rapid, thin, and tinkling warble, which may be mistaken for that of the Eurasian wren, though it is shorter and less robust.


Dunnocks exhibit a variety of mating systems, with females often engaging in polyandry. Males attempt to ensure paternity by pecking at the female's cloaca to stimulate the ejection of rival sperm. The species is known for its quick copulation, which can occur more than 100 times a day. Parental care is generally proportional to mating success, with both males and females commonly seen provisioning at a single nest.

Similar Species

The dunnock's streaked back and drab coloration may lead to confusion with the house sparrow, but its distinctive behavior and calls can aid in proper identification.

Diet and Feeding

Dunnocks primarily feed on the ground, often targeting detritivores as a food source.

Conservation status

The dunnock is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN, indicating a stable population without immediate threats to its survival.

Dunnock Sounds

Recorded by: © 
App logo
Birda is a birdwatching app and community aimed at curious people who want to deepen their connection with nature.

Dunnocks on Birda


Similar species

A photo of a House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) , male

House Sparrow

Passer domesticus

More Accentors

Birda Logo

Your birdwatching journey like never before

Connect with nature in minutes
Take a walk, look out of the window and log the birds that you see. Feel good about those little connections to nature.
Discover the joy of birding
Find new birding spots, see more birds, share and celebrate with a like-minded community of nature lovers.
Play your part in saving nature
Logging your birding sightings and sessions turns into positive action for our planet. Every sighting counts.

Birda Blog

What Our Birders Say
Very Wholesome App
Joined this app with a new interest in watching birds to help me find out what I was spotting. The community is very active in helping identify birds which is great and everyone is very kind so it’s just a nice wholesome community. I would definitely recommend this for any bird spotter 😄
Amylia S
Best app for any birding person!
I love this app!! I am so addicted to it when I saw it had 3 star review I was so sad! The app is awesome!! The best app for any birding person! ❤️
Learning Birding with Birda
I’m relatively new to birding as a hobby, and Birda is a great way to keep track off all the species I see. I’m still working on my ID skills, but the app is great for figuring out potential species, and the online community is so friendly and helpful. Definitely recommend Birda to both early and serious birders! 🐦
Birda fan
I really enjoy using Birda, all sightings are recorded and photos can be added. There are monthly challenges which help to get you out to record your sightings. The Birda community are great and are happy to help with unidentified bird sightings. Suitable for all ages and experience!
Alex J
Friendly and helps to identify birds
Great birding app, good for logging your sightings, also has nice species guide. I'm enjoying the social aspect more than I expected, everyone seems friendly and helps to identify unknown birds. Good mix of newbies and experienced users.
Mike T
Sense of Community
A great app, which is continually being improved. What really comes through is the passion of those behind the app. The sense of community is brilliant, so much help and support provided to new and/or in experienced birders.
Really useful
Downloaded to give it a try, everything worked perfectly, recorded my first bird watching walk. Very impressed. Have already recommended to friends!
Terrific App for Birders
Downloaded Birda around the time my interest in birding was sparked, and it has been a terrific app to help me (1) share my experience, (2) document my sightings, and (3) learn more about birds in general. That said, I also believe Birda is a fantastic app for birders of all experience levels. Great community!
Great app for learning Birds
I’ve been using the app for a couple of months and love it....Someone said it’s like a real life Pokémon Go for birds. They’re not far off! It’s something that the family can do that gets you out and about. Well worth downloading no matter your age.
Paul F
Very good database
Highly recommend. It great that this app shows you male Vs female variations when posting. Very good database I'm really impressed.
As featured in
Birda Logo
AboutPressAmbassadorsAffiliatesInfluencersCareersPrivacyTerms & Conditions
An app for birdwatchers
Connect with us
Copyright © 2024 Chirp Birding. All rights reserved.