The Dunnock, Prunella modularis, is a small passerine bird found throughout temperate Europe and into Asia. It is by far the most widespread member of the accentor family, which otherwise consists of mountain species. It is sometimes called the Hedge Accentor.
It is a resident in the milder west and south of its range, but as an insectivore, must migrate south from the colder parts of its range. It is a bird of woodland, shrub and gardens. It builds a neat nest low in a bush or conifer, laying 3-5 unspotted blue eggs.
It is a host of the Common Cuckoo. It is likely that this association is recent, since other Cuckoo hosts have learned to discriminate between eggs, and the Cuckoo has consequently evolved eggs that match those of its host. In the case of the Dunnock, there is no resemblance, yet the Cuckoo eggs are accepted.
This is a Robin-sized bird, fairly drab in appearance, and somewhat resembling a small House Sparrow with its streaked back and general shape. It is also brownish underneath, and has a fine pointed bill. Adults have a grey head.
This species makes up for its drab appearance with its breeding habits, which feature serial infidelity by both members of a breeding pair.
The song is thin and tinkling.