Dunnock Prunella modularis


Justification of Red List category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
In Europe (which covers >95% of the breeding range), the breeding population is estimated to be 12,700,000-21,800,000 pairs, which equates to 25,400,000-43,500,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015).

Trend justification
In Europe the overall trend for 1980-2013 was a moderate decline (EBCC 2015).


This species is found in a wide variety of habitats across its range. It breeds in scrub and stunted woodland in alpine, subarctic and tundra habitats in the north and east of the range. In the north of the range it uses coniferous, broadleaf and mixed forests, particularly alongside water. In the west of the range (from the U.K., Belgium and western Germany south to Iberia) it is mainly found in lowlands, using managed woodland with thick understorey, hedges and farm woodland, suburban and urban gardens, parks, and any other habitat with scrubby vegetation. It breeds from March to July across much of the range, whilst in Russia it breeds from May to August. The nest is a cup of twigs, stems, roots, grass and moss, lined with hair, wool and sometimes feathers, located above the ground in a bush, hedge or tree. It lays three to six eggs. It feeds mainly on arthropods but supplements its diet with seeds in the winter (Hatchwell 2016). In western Europe the species is resident; in western-central Europe it is partially migratory, making altitudinal movements in montane areas; in Fennoscandia and central Europe it is fully migratory (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997).


The decline in the U.K. is thought to be due to changing farming practices which has allowed other passerines to force this species into more marginal sites (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997). However no specific factor has been found for these local declines (Hatchwell 2016).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Bern Convention Appendix II. The species has been listed as ‘amber’ on the U.K. national red list (Hatchwell 2016).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Research should look into the threats in areas where the species is declining and assess their impact.


Text account compilers
Ashpole, J, Butchart, S., Symes, A., Ekstrom, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Species factsheet: Prunella modularis. Downloaded from on 24/02/2024.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2024) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 24/02/2024.