© Arthur Grosset
The Dunnock is a European
bird. It is resident in north-west Europe from Germany,
through France to northern Spain and including the British Isles
but is migratory
in most of the rest of Europe breeding in Scandinavia, eastern Europe
while wintering in southern Europe and into Turkey.
Originally a scrub
and woodland edge bird it has adapted, particularly in Britain to
farms, parks, gardens and other shrubby areas.
It feeds mainly on insects found primarily on the ground but also
eats seeds in winter.
Its colouring is rather like a House Sparrow,
Passer domesticus, but its bill is thin
and pointed though it has a wide, rounded base.
It is generally difficult to see as it keeps in or close to cover
but, when courting in the spring,
can become very visible.
above: Arthur Grosset
It builds a neat nest
low in a bush or conifer, laying 3-5 unspotted blue eggs.
The Dunnock will not
be seen using a bird feeder,
but prefers to pick up food from the ground which has been dropped
by other birds.
It is a host of the
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, 13.5-14 cm in length, 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. The sexes are similarly coloured.
This species makes
up for its drab appearance with its breeding behaviour.
Females are often polyandrous, breeding with two males at once,
and thus giving rise to sperm competition.
Males compete for mating access to the female,
but DNA fingerprinting has shown that chicks within broods often
have different fathers.
Polyandry is rare in birds, with only about 2% of species showing
such a mating system;
the majority are monogamous, where one male and one female breed
part of text: http://en.wikipedia.org/