Bird of the month – March 2023

Have you seen the bird of the month?

For March, it is the: Dunnock (Prunella modularis)


Where can I find them?

They are fairly common and can be seen around most areas of the reserve, throughout the year.
The best places to look and see them are at our two Bird Feeding Stations (The Lodge & Netley Meadow).

About the species

Dunnocks are rarely seen in more than pairs and mostly on their own. They are quiet, unobtrusive and often seen moving around nervously looking for insects.

At first sight, the Dunnock looks drab brown in colour. However, when seen closer it has a grey breast and head with dark streaks on its wings.

The species is often mistaken as a House Sparrow. The way to tell the difference is by looking at the beak. A Dunnocks bill is thin and pointy whilst the House Sparrows is much broader.

Dunnock's Beak
Dunnock’s Beak
House Sparrow's Beak
House Sparrow’s Beak

The species is on the UK amber list, meaning its population and conservation status is of moderate concern.

The Dunnock weighs around 19-24kg and have an average lifespan of 2 years.

What do they sound like?

A ‘piping’ note, transliterated as “tiiih.” It’s often said to sounding like a ‘squeaky wheelbarrow’ or gate.

Where do they nest and what is the nest made from?

Nesting normally starts in April, with the nest being built only by the female.

It is normally constructed in dense shrubs, bushes or hedges and made of twigs and moss, with moss and hair being used to line the nest cup.

Incubation normally lasts for around 12 days.  The young then normally leave the nest around 11-12 days after hatching.  Both the male and female will then continue to feed and look after their young.  It is also known that other Dunnocks can cooperate to help feed them as well.