Dunnock – Prunella modularis

Not the most frequent of visitors to our garden, but probably under recorded. In the video below we have, we think, caught significant parts of the mating process of this species. Firstly though, its important to note that females are polyandrous, meaning they can breed with two or more males at once.

It has been noted that clutches of eggs can have individuals fathered by different males following sperm competition at fertilization. One of the ways males can increase their odds of successfully siring off-spring is prior to mating pecking the females cloaca, which can stimulate her to eject the sperm of a previous coupling.

In the video below we start by seeing a pair of Dunnocks foraging for inverts on the ground, however at 1:50 into the video the pair begin the mating process with the male pecking at the females rear. At 2:15 we think, if you look very carefully, you can see the female eject sperm. Then leading up to 2:45 you begin to see the male prepare to mate, which apparently takes 1/10th of second and occurs around 2:45 before the pair take off and begin a short phase of rough and tumble, before getting back to the much more important task of finding food.