Family Accentors (Prunellidae)

Least Concern

Dunnock (Prunella modularis)


French: Accenteur mouchet German: Heckenbraunelle Spanish: Acentor común
Other common names: Hedge Accentor

Motacilla modularis


, 1758,

Europe = Sweden


Race obscura relatively distinctive owing to slight whitish mottling or scaling on breast, becoming more obvious at transition to white belly (1); broad brown streaks on head, making it browner rather than greyer (1); reduced brown streaking on flanks (1); but no clear vocal differences#R. Eight subspecies currently recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. m. hebridium R. Meinertzhagen, 1934 – Hebridean Is (W Scotland) and Ireland.
  • P. m. occidentalis (E. J. O. Hartert, 1910) – Britain (except Hebrides) and W France.
  • P. m. modularis (Linnaeus, 1758) – European Dunnock – N & C Europe E to Urals, S to Alps and Romania; winters to S Europe, N Africa and Turkey.
  • P. m. mabbotti Harper, 1919 – SC France, Iberian Peninsula, Italy and Greece.
  • P. m. meinertzhageni J. M. Harrison & Pateff, 1937 – W & C Balkans and Bulgaria.
  • P. m. fuscata Mauersberger, 1971 – mountains of S Crimea.
  • P. m. euxina Watson, 1961 – NW & N Turkey.
  • P. m. obscura (Hablizl, 1783) – Caucasian Dunnock – Caucasus region, NE Turkey and N Iran; winters to Middle East.
  • Introduced (probably occidentalis) in New Zealand.

    Descriptive notes

    14·5 cm; 19–20 g. Male nominate race has smoky-grey head, neck, throat and breast; grey-brown cheeks with fine pale streaks; mantle and back warm brown with... read more


    Male song, in bouts from exposed perch, rarely in flight, a short (2–4 seconds) but pleasant... read more


    Highly variable across range. Occupies scrub and stunted woodland in alpine, subarctic and tundra... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet largely arthropods, supplemented by seeds in winter; in Britain, volume of seeds in faeces was 90% in February, 0% in April (52%... read more


    Breeds Mar–Jul over much of range, May–Aug in Russia; two broods, occasionally three, per season. Following account based on... read more


    Resident, altitudinal migrant, partial migrant and total migrant. Fennoscandian, Russian, Polish, N... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Generally common to very common. Estimated global population 10,500,000–23,200,000 pairs. Russian population estimated at 1,000,000–10,... read more

    Recommended citation

    Hatchwell, B. (2019). Dunnock (Prunella modularis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 11 December 2019).