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Common Name: Dunnock or Hedge Sparrow
Scientific Name: Prunella modularis

Size: 5.3-5.8 inches (13.5-14 cm)

Habitat: Eurasia; widespread and common resident breeder throughout temperate Europe and Asia. 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. Found in woodlands, scrublands and gardens.

Status: Least Concern. Global Population: 36,000,000 - 78,000,000 Mature individuals. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Diet: Insects and some seed.

Breeding: This species makes up for its drab appearance with its randy breeding behavior. 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, depending on their success at monopolizing access to the fertile female. Males try to ensure their paternity during courtship by pecking at the cloaca of the female to stimulate her to eject the sperm of other males with whom the female has recently mated. Males provide parental care in proportion to their mating success, so it is not uncommon to see two males and female provisioning nestlings at one nest. 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 together.

It builds a neat nest low in a bush or conifer, laying 3-5 unspotted blue eggs.

Cool Facts: Dunnocks are also known as Hedge Accentor or Hedge Sparrows. Dunnocks are 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.

Found in Songbird ReMix European Edition 2

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