Squatters Rights for Dunnocks

posted in: Photography | 30


Dunnocks are little birds that you will see infrequently at the bird feeders in the UK. In fact they usually feed on insects like beetles, spiders and ants. Though they may be seen picking up the crumbs under the feeding table during the winter months. As long as there is no Robin in the vicinity!   Edit to add that the images here were once hosted on photobucket and due to their new terms and conditions I’m slowly getting around to hosting the images elsewhere.

Dunnock (Prunella modularis) Wiki Commons
Dunnock (Prunella modularis) Wiki Commons


Dunnocks Nest 


There was no fancy real estate for this little bird compared to our blackbirds last month.  A little shelf  2 feet above the ground and out in the open was where Mama Dunnock decided to build her nest.   It was right beside a busy footpath while nearby there was a lovely beech hedge but Mama decided otherwise.  Not the best choice in my opinion but Dunnocks know best!


dunnock blue eggs
Dunnock blue eggs


We placed a wooden crate over the the nest to keep her shaded and protected from predators. The slots in the wood were big enough for her to come and go as she pleased.  After a few days we saw that she had laid 5 little blue eggs  no more than an inch in size.

Then they started to hatch!

One day I thought there was a little leaf in the nest blowing in the breeze. But when I realised that it was a newly hatched egg I got quite a shock. It’s that little skin coloured ball in between the other blue eggs. I left the nest very quickly at this point.

dunnocks in the nest
You can click on the photo to see in greater detail.

A few days later I went back and saw that all the little babies had hatched. Hair was starting to grow on their little pink bodies.


I’ve no more photos of this little family as they all fledged  too quick for me during the holidays. Unlike the blackbird family who I was able to photograph every day from egg to fledgling stage.

a clutch of dunnocks
a clutch of dunnocks


Vivid Imagination Maybe?


Finally I do have another ‘nest’ to show you. Even I could fit into it!

nest or roots 1

nest or roots?

Just look at all the weaving of those big thick twigs! It’s a masterpiece!  Are they just the roots of a tree or a VERY big bird lurking in our woods? I’d never want to meet that bird that’s for sure!

Rosie Nixon
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Rosie is based in Perth, Perthshire as a garden photographer, writer and nature lover. She enjoys soaking up nature in her own garden and is easily distracted from doing the weeding by anything that flutters, flies, buzzes, creeps or crawls! She enjoys sharing the beauty of creation through her photography. Rosie has been featured on TV on BBC2's The Beechgrove Garden and she uses the Scottish outdoors as her natural light studio. Her work can be seen at the only photographic gallery in Scotland - Close Gallery, 4b Howe Street, Edinburgh.

30 Responses

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    What a treat to see this mama bird, her nest, and those beautiful blue eggs!

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    How wonderful that mama bird built her nest where you so easily could photograph it. What a thrill it must have been to see those babies! A few weeks ago I was going to clean out the blue bird house, as a family had nested there earlier in the year. When I opened it, was I surprised that family #2 was in there! The little bluebirds were recently hatched and featherless. I closed the door quickly! Today I checked again, and of course they were long gone. I finally cleaned out the house.

    The heron nest is fantastic! Reminds me of something I have seen in a dinosaur movie!

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    What a beautiful nest and eggs. I think they are like pieces of art. I love where birds decide to nest. We've got some Wrens in a decorative birdhouse that has been hanging in the same spot for 10 years, this is the first time it's been used.
    The Heron nest is awesome! They are such big birds, I'd love to see how big the eggs are.
    I thought of you yesterday when I found a Lacewing in my house. I would never have known what it was if I hadn't read about them on your blog. I put it back outside so it could get to work. They really are such a pretty color of green.

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    Beautiful! We had a family of barn swallows in our barn low enough to watch, but they fledged too quickly for me to photograph. I didn't want to hang around too much because it clearly agitated the parents any time we went in the barn and since we weren't using the barn for anything, we mostly just left them.

    It's so exciting, though!

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    Edith Hope

    Dear Rosie, What a fascinating posting and one of particular interest to me as I have not come across the Dunnock before now. Is their particular habitat Scotland or are they to be found further south, I wonder?

    In Hungary at this time of year the Storks are to be found building their nests on chimneys and telegraph poles. Your picture of the Heron's nest reminded me.

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    Great post … this is a bird I know very little about. How lovely to be able to see the little babies. I've never had that experience here in my garden. Love those blues eggs … marvellous photos!

    Thanks for the mention as well … it's a kind gesture.

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    Wow! i love your post, thank you for sharing, I like a lot.
    And the baby bird are very beautiful.

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    James Missier

    Its amazing to have these little bird nest in your garden and to see the progress of this little family.
    Im very sure its thrilling to see all of them grow up and come again very year.

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    Rosie…loved your post!! How wonderful to be able to photograph the entire process. What a pretty shade of blue! I clicked on your link and checked out your blackbird family post too. Beautifully captured! I'm envious!!

    I'd never have imagined a Grey Heron's nest to be that big! Huge! As for wildlife here, the rainy season brings a whole lot of dragons and damsels. I've photographed most of them these past two years so the urge to rush out with my camera isn't as great as it was before. Of course, if I see something new….I'd RUSH!

    Have a lovely week!

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    Oh my, those blue eggs are splendid! And a heron's nest! I've never seen one of those! I love the nests in your neck of the woods. Those woven stems and the green moss are lovely. In my neck of the woods, birds love to use the stringy, gray Spanish moss in their nests. Not quite as attractive.

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    Lovely blue eggs. THe heron's nest is really huge. I have seenmany herons foraging in the village pond, but I have never seen a nest.

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    How wonderful Rosie you always seem to capture the best photos. All too often the nests I run across are like your Herons nest empty.

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    Gloria, Dakota Garden

    The heron's nest is wonderful. I didn't know they built so low to the water. How fun – If you had got into the nest would it have held. Wouldn't that be a cool picture. But then again, there are probably insects in there 🙂

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    Hi Rosie,

    I love the light blue eggs and the fluffy new chicks. How wonderful that you were able to help protect the nest and get some pictures.

    I cannot believe the size of the heron nest….

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    Another lovely nesting story, Rosie and such pretty blue eggs. Strangely I have Dunnocks in my London garden but all their relatives, the once ubiquitous 'Cockney sparras' have moved out.

    Laura x

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    Hi … thanks for visiting my "house & garden" blog (Jutulheimen). You asked about the little black beetles in the middle of the rosa rugosa. I don't know what they are called. I haven't seen them elsewhere in my garden.


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    Autumn Belle

    I have never seen blue eggs in my whole life. Before reading your post, I thought all birds' eggs are white or brown on in these shades! The tweety birds are cute and lovable.

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    Another lovely, growing bird family. You are so lucky to live in such place and witness such things.
    I thought the blue eggs are a photographic accident but they are really blue.
    The hairy babies are cute and that giant heron nest is an amazing work indeed.

    Thanks for the description of the orchid bugs. I'll check the flowers again in the morning, at daylight and buy fertilizer on Monday.
    Looking forward to read that post about orchid care soon.
    I've made a mistake and I had to delete the previous comment, please complete the deletion (delete forever).

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    Curbstone Valley Farm

    Rosie, I had no idea that Dunnock eggs were so blue. How beautiful. I'm glad the female didn't mind you placing a crate over the nest, it no doubt made all the difference helping to secure it from predators…unlike our poor flycatchers. It is funny sometimes to see where birds choose to build their nests. That grey heron nest is gargantuan!

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    Pam's English Garden

    Rosie, How lovely that you helped the Mama bird by protecting her nest. Your photographs are superb and I enjoyed following the whole process. Great post! Pam

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    Hi Rosie, yes the heron nest is pretty impressive and your photo shows well the intricate weaving of the branches, it is amazing how delicately they manage to land on the top branches of a tree despite their weight…great post…

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    aloha rosie,

    this was a very story, thanks for helping this mother bird along, i love what you did for them, that heron nest is huge! thanks fharing it.

    help me decide on a photo from my plant fanatic blog, if you don't mind?

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    Oh what a wonderful nest. It's funny how fast they can leave the nest. I think the heron nest is just fabulous. Would have loved to see those young ones.

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    Kilauea Poetry

    This is fabulous- I really enjoy your stories (will try to tweek my link here to your site)..did you know I discovered my Myna birds (I call them my crows) lay pretty blue eggs! I was shocked to say the least! Your photos are terrific..so fascinating! I just posted a peek in my kitchen -via a short vid with my love bird! Come check it out when you have a moment..have a great day Rosie-

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    Kilauea Poetry

    I wanted to also say that I love the nests and think its amazing you can be so close to photograph them like that! We don't have quite the variety of birds here for one reason or another..

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    What a great post, Rosie! I love birds (even crows in a begrudging kind of way) and it's wonderful to see that you've taken great care to shelter and protect your avian visitors. The blue eggs are so lovely, like nature's works of art.

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    This is wonderful Rosie! A couple of weeks ago I blogged about a pair of Carolina wrens that were nesting in a potted plant on our patio. But I can't get photos of the nest like you have. I couldn't believe my eyes when I looked at the photo of the babies at full size. Awesome!

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