The Dunnock

The Dunnock is one of our most common and familiar birds, especially in our garden. Yet, many people still struggle with its identity and our Q&A mail sack bulges (metaphorically – they are mainly emails, really) with mystery birds which turn out to be Dunnocks. These two short videos should help with the key characteristics.




Adult Dunnock: A typical feeding bird, hopping around on the ground with its body held more or less horizontally. Note the thin bill (unlike sparrows, whose bill is conical), thin, pink legs and grey and brown plumage. The head and chest are more or less blue-grey, while the back and wings are black-streaked warm brown. The flanks are also streaky. The plumage remains pretty much the same throughout the year

Juvenile: A young Dunnock (ie in summer) is similar in build, shape and movement to the adult, but is much more straky on the head and breast. The youngest juveniles have a notable pale mark around the side of the bill, known as the gape; many birds have this as a sort of landing light indicator for the adults, effectively saying “feed me!”