What The Fuck Is A Dunnock?

A while back, when I posted about how the Robins were revolting because they’d been usurped by the Wood Pigeon in the Top 10 Garden Birds list, a load of you emailed me asking me what a Dunnock was seeing as it appeared at number 5 just above the Robin, and was clearly way bigger than the sparrow who only made it to number 9.

Being of the birdfolk myself, have to say I was mildly embarrassed by the fact I had absolutely no fucking idea what a Dunnock was.

It crossed my mind that they may have flown over from Poland or Croatia and just decided to make urban gardens their habitat of choice due to the succulent plant life, but ‘Dunnock’ didn’t look like a particularly Eastern European name, so I figured it must be a Brit bird that had simply slipped through the net due to its size, and what is described as its ‘drab appearance’.

Drab? ‘Drab’ has got to be the worst ever. ‘Tone neutral’ – maybe. ‘Lacking in colour’ – possibly, but ‘drab’? Hilarious.

Saying that, they weren’t wrong:

photo – blueskybirds.co.uk

All I could do was hope the Dunnock made up for it in character…

Seeing as they tend to keep themselves to themselves and spend most of their time hiding in bushes it took me a while to find one. And then I did, sitting in a bush, and quickly discovered the word ‘drab’ didn’t merely refer to the colour of their feathers. Perfectly polite and well mannered, just nothing to contribute of any interest. Pointless, in fact. Oh dear.

Interview went something like this:

Me: “So, not met a Dunnock before. How’s it going today?”

Dunnock: “Fine, thanks.”

Me: “What you up to sitting in this bush? Is this how you normally spend your time, or is it only on Thursdays?”

Dunnock: “No. I come everyday.”

Me: “Everyday? The same bush, everyday?”

Dunnock: “Yes.”

Me: “Why?”

Dunnock: “Don’t know. I just like it.”

Me: “As bushes go, granted it has got a certain something, but everyday?”

The Dunnock said nothing. He just stared out of the bush.

Me: “Can I ask what you get up to sitting in your bush?”

Dunnock: “Nothing really. Think a bit. That kind of thing.”

That was it. I’d had enough and fucked off sharpish for fear of pecking my own eyes out.

So what is it about the Dunnock considering it fails on both plumage and personality? There must be something otherwise it wouldn’t be at number 5…

It didn’t take long to find out. Fat Jesus, wish I’d known this fact before the interview. Goes some way to explaining the slightly nervous disposition and why it is the poor fella spends most of his days in hiding:

“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 provide parental care in proportion to their mating success, so it is not uncommon to see two males and a female provisioning nestlings at one nest.

Sperm competition? WTF? Humiliating stuff and no help whatsoever for those already suffering from ‘small bird syndrome’.

So it seems the Dunnock has a dirty little secret. The females are, broadly speaking, slags with wings.

Got me thinking though. I should probably revisit the Dunnock one day. Encourage him to open up. Maybe help him work through some of the issues…

November 1, 2008. Uncategorized.

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