Dunnock ©Neil Aldridge


Scientific name: Prunella modularis
The shy dunnock can be seen hopping about under hedges as its other name, 'hedge sparrow', suggests. It inhabits gardens, woodlands, hedgerows and parks.

Species information


Length: 14cm
Wingspan: 20cm
Weight: 21g
Average lifespan: 2 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Amber under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2021). Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.

When to see

January to December


The dunnock is a small bird, about the size of a robin, which is common in gardens, parks, hedgerows, scrub and along woodland edges. Dunnocks are shy birds, hopping about in low vegetation and around the edge of lawns, feeding on small insects, worms and seeds. When two males meet, however, they become animated with territorial calling and wing-flicking. Males and females will form strong pairs, but the female will still mate with another male, so neither male knows who the father is and both supply her chicks with food. They nest in hedges or shrubs, laying up to five eggs.

How to identify

The dunnock is a streaky brown-and-grey bird, with a dark grey head and a thin bill.



Did you know?

The dunnock is also known as the 'hedge sparrow' even though it's not actually a sparrow, but a member of a small family of birds called accentors.

How people can help

Whether you live in town or country, you can help to look after garden birds by providing food and water for them.


Dunnock by John Bridges