Dunnocks to the death 

June 13th 2018

On the afternoon of 22ndMay, my daughter, her friend and I were scanning the back garden of my house at Nedd (NC137319) for birds visiting a peanut feeder, when our attention was drawn to some vigorous action at ground level. What we took to be two male dunnocks Prunella modularis were in violent combat on the lawn, and one seemed to be getting the better of the other.  I took several pictures through the window (hence the suboptimal quality) and then opened it to try to break up the fight.  However the one on top was very loathe to leave the scene. Meanwhile a third, presumably a female, was circling the area at a small distance.

I finally went out to scare off the aggressor and found the victim lying dead on its back.  Dunnocks have a well-researched reputation for ‘intense male-male competition’, and are also known to mate with more than one individual of the opposite sex.  In this case  competition had lead to the death of one of the contestants.  A timely, if not cozy, reminder of the evolutionary pressure on individuals to pass on their genes and, at least in some species of birds, what they will do to achieve that aim.

Ian Evans

Report a Sighting

Recent Sightings

Greylag Goose

Eleven birds feeding on margins of frozen Loch an Aigeil (AS) (22/01)

Common Gull

Flock of 29 feeding on Stoer Green (AS) (21/01)

Goldfinch

c20 birds on garden trees, Drumbeg (Nancy Millar) (17/01)

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Two separate reports of birds using peanut and fat ball feeders in gardens at almost opposite ends of Assynt. Single bird on peanut feeder, Elphin (Rosie Christmas) Single bird on fat ball feeder, Culkein Drumbeg (Carol Langford) (17/01)

Twite

26 birds at Split Rock, Clachtoll (AS) (16/01)

Fieldfare

Small flock of 20 at Clachtoll (AS) (16/01)

Goldcrest

Single bird foraging under garden feeders, Torbreck (Jack Wright) (14/01)

Dipper

Three birds on River Inver opposite Little Assynt Tree Nursery (DAH). At least one of these birds was singing. (12/01)

Map