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Duel of the Dunnocks

Friday, 1st March 2002, West Yorkshire

snowdropssong thrushTHERE'S SUN ON THE POND as a Song Thrush takes a vigourous bath by a clump of snowdrops. We heard one singing before six this morning.
The male Dunnock whose territory includes our back garden also has a busy life. Perching on the hedge near the bird table he regularly makes his wing-raising display to the female who perches next to him.

dunnock displayingdunnock displayingdunnock

A few minutes later, down at the end of the garden, again from a perch next to his female on top of the hawthorn hedge, he gives his jingling song. Another dunnock answers from next door's garden.

He needs to be watchful; it has been observed that male dunnocks from adjacent territories will mate with the resident female when they get the chance. The interloper gets some encouragment from the female; the advantage for her is that she gets a variety of genes in one clutch of offspring. The resident male always has the chance to sneak off and mate with the female next door.

chaffinchThe dunnock is a little brown bird with a colourful private life. As I stand by the pond watching them there's a burst of white wing-bars as a colourful male Chaffinch flies into the garden. Taking the country as a whole it's one of our commonest, if not the most common bird. But it's still a welcome page

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

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