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Order Song birds/Passeriformes, Family Accentors/Prunellidae

Hedge Accentor/Prunella modularis - Adult

L 13-14½ cm. Breeds in parks, gardens, open woodland, heaths and commons with gorse or scrub, areas with hedges and thick shrubbery, also young conifer stands; but in N Europe mainly in dense spruce plantations, also in juniper country and upland forest. Resident; migratory in N. Rather shy and retiring in summer. Food mostly insects. Nests in thick bush or low down in conifer.
IDENTIFICATION: Robin-sized, with warbler-like thin bill. Rather House Sparrow-like brown and streaked upperparts. Characteristic blue-grey head (ear-coverts and crown tinged grey-brown) and breast. Legs red-brown. Lacks white in tail. Greater coverts have fine pale spots at tips, at times appearing as thin wing-bar. Overall impression, however, is of a uniformly coloured and rather dark bird. Flight jerky, light and springing. Often perches in view when singing, but otherwise mostly keeps hidden, and is rather difficult to catch sight of, dives down into cover at slightest disturbance. Juv.: Browner, more boldly streaked, and has pale chin. - Variation: Birds in Ireland and NW Scotland (ssp. hebridium) are darker, especially above and on breast. Birds in rest of Britain (occidentalis) something between those and birds of Continental Europe (modularis).
VOICE: Alarm-call (also at times as contact) a rather strong, uninflected pipe with discordant tone, ‘tiih’. Call on migration, when often heard at first light or in late evening, uttered especially in flight, a ringing or shivering, very thin ‘tihihihi’. Song, usually given from top of bush or medium-sized conifer, clear and quite loud, an irresolute shuttling or patchwork of sounds c. 2 sec. long at quite even pitch, ‘tütellititelletitütellütotelitelleti’ or similar.

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