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Prunellidae - Accentors

Dunnock Prunella modularis ©Andy Bright Website

The Prunellidae or accentors are the only bird family, which is endemic to the Palearctic. This small group of closely related passerines are all in a single genus - Prunella. [Although the alpine accentor and Altai accentor are separated into the genus Laiscopus by some taxonomists.] All but the dunnock and the Japanese accentor are inhabitants of the mountainous regions of Europe and Asia; these two also occur in lowland areas, as does the Siberian accentor in the far north of Siberia.

Their typical habitat is mountainous regions in an area far above the tree-line, but below the snow-line. The Himalayan accentor can be found as high as 17,000 ft above sea level when breeding, however, most accentors breed in scrub vegetation at lower levels and most species migrate downwards to spend the winter, with only some being hardy enough to remain. This genus is not strongly migratory, but they will leave the coldest parts of their range in winter, as well as making altitudinal movements. Accentors spend the majority of their time in the undergrowth and even when flushed, stay low to the ground until reaching cover.

They are small, often drab species generally regarded as being related to the thrushes or the warblers. Accentors have thin sharp bills, reflecting their diet of ground-dwelling insects in summer, augmented with seeds and berries in winter.

Their mating systems are unusually flexible, with some pairs breeding monogamously (usually where resources are relatively scarce) and others breeding polygamously, either one male with two or more females (polygyny), one female with two or more males (polyandry), or, occasionally, several males and females together (polygynandry). This variety reflects the fact that males and females defend territories more or less independently. Where resources are rich (and hence territories can be small) it is possible for males to monopolise several females, or for females to attract several males. Accentors may have two to three broods a year. Courtship consists of a great deal of song from the males, which may include short lark-like song flights to attract a mate. In most species, the male and female share in the nest making, with the dunnock being an exception - their males have no part in nest building or incubation. They build neat cup nests and lay about 4 unspotted green or blue eggs.

There are just 13 species of Accentor; they are

Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris
Altai (Rufous-streaked) Accentor Prunella himalayana
Robin Accentor Prunella rubeculoides
Rufous-breasted Accentor Prunella strophiata
Siberian Accentor Prunella montanella
Brown Accentor Prunella fulvescens
Radde's Accentor Prunella ocularis
Arabian (Yemen) Accentor Prunella fagani
Black-throated Accentor Prunella atrogularis
Kozlov's (Mongolian) Accentor Prunella koslowi
Dunnock (Hedge Sparrow/Accentor) Prunella modularis
Japanese Accentor Prunella rubida
Maroon-backed Accentor Prunella immaculata

Family Links

Accentors - Prunellidae

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The accentors are small, brown, unobtrusive sparrow-like birds, epitomised by the European Hedge Accentor, whose vernacular name, Dunnock, translates from Old English as, well, small brown bird....

Accentors - Prunellidae

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IBC family account...

Accentors - Prunellidae

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HBW family account...

Accentors - Prunellidae

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Oiseaux.net family account - more or less a species list...

Species Links

Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris

Webpage

BirdLife species profile...

Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris

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Avibase species account...

Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris

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IBC species account...

Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris

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HBW species account...

Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris

Webpage

Names, image and video

Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris

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Altai Accentor Prunella himalayana

Webpage

BirdLife species profile

Altai Accentor Prunella himalayana

Wiki

Altai Accentor Prunella himalayana

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Avibase species account...

Altai Accentor Prunella himalayana

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The IUCN Red Listing of the species Threatened Species status...

Altai Accentor Prunella himalayana

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HBW species account...

Altai Accentor Prunella himalayana

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IBC species account...

Altai Accentor Prunella himalayana

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Species account, image and status in Kazakhstan...

Robin Accentor Prunella rubeculoides

Wiki

Robin Accentor Prunella rubeculoides

Webpage

Avibase species account...

Robin Accentor Prunella rubeculoides

Webpage

BirdLife species profile...

Robin Accentor Prunella rubeculoides

Webpage

HBW species account...

Robin Accentor Prunella rubeculoides

Webpage

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species status

Robin Accentor Prunella rubeculoides

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IBC species account and taxonomy...

Robin Accentor Prunella rubeculoides

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Sound recordings with distribution map...

Rufous-breasted Accentor Prunella strophiata

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Rufous-breasted Accentor Prunella strophiata

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Avibase species account...

Rufous-breasted Accentor Prunella strophiata

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BirdLife species profile...

Rufous-breasted Accentor Prunella strophiata

Webpage

HBW species account...

Rufous-breasted Accentor Prunella strophiata

Webpage

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species status...

Rufous-breasted Accentor Prunella strophiata

Webpage

IBC species account and taxonomy...

Rufous-breasted Accentor Prunella strophiata

Webpage

Sound recordings and distribution map...

Siberian Accentor Prunella montanella

Webpage

BirdLife species profile...

Siberian Accentor Prunella montanella

Wiki

Siberian Accentor Prunella montanella

Webpage

HBW species account...

Siberian Accentor Prunella montanella

Webpage

Avibase species account...

Siberian Accentor Prunella montanella

Webpage

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species status

Siberian Accentor Prunella montanella

Webpage

IBC species account and taxonomy

Siberian Accentor Prunella montanella

Webpage

Sound recordings and distribution

Brown Accentor Prunella fulvescens

Wiki

Brown Accentor Prunella fulvescens

Webpage

Avibase species account...

Brown Accentor Prunella fulvescens

Webpage

BirdLife species profile...

Brown Accentor Prunella fulvescens

Webpage

HBW species account.,..

Brown Accentor Prunella fulvescens

Webpage

IBC species account and taxonomy...

Brown Accentor Prunella fulvescens

Webpage

Sound recordings and distribution...

Radde's Accentor Prunella ocularis

Wiki

Radde's Accentor Prunella ocularis

Webpage

BirdLife species profile...

Radde's Accentor Prunella ocularis

Webpage

Avibase species account...

Radde's Accentor Prunella ocularis

Webpage

HBW species account...

Radde's Accentor Prunella ocularis

Webpage

IBC species account and taxonomy...

Arabian Accentor Prunella fagani

Wiki

Arabian Accentor Prunella fagani

Webpage

BirdLife species profile...

Arabian Accentor Prunella fagani

Webpage

HBW species account...

Arabian Accentor Prunella fagani

Webpage

Avibase species account...

Arabian Accentor Prunella fagani

Webpage

IBC species account...

Black-throated Accentor Prunella atrogularis

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Black-throated Accentor Prunella atrogularis

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BirdLife species profile...

Black-throated Accentor Prunella atrogularis

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Avibase species account...

Black-throated Accentor Prunella atrogularis

Webpage

HBW species account...

Black-throated Accentor Prunella atrogularis

Webpage

IBC species account and taxonomy...

Kozlov's Accentor Prunella koslowi

Webpage

BirdLife species profile...

Kozlov's Accentor Prunella koslowi

Webpage

Avibase species account...

Kozlov's Accentor Prunella koslowi

Webpage

IBC species account and taxonomy...

Kozlov's Accentor Prunella koslowi

Webpage

HBW species account...

Kozlov's Accentor Prunella koslowi

Webpage

Sound recordings and distribution map...

Kozlov's Accentor Prunella koslowi

Webpage

Species account (French) & image...

Dunnock Prunella modularis

Wiki

Dunnock Prunella modularis

Webpage

RSPB species account, image & UK distribution & status...

Dunnock Prunella modularis

Webpage

BirdLife species profile...

Dunnock Prunella modularis

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Avibase species account...

Dunnock Prunella modularis

Webpage

Sound recordings and distribution map...,

Dunnock Prunella modularis

Webpage

IBC species account and taxonomy...

Dunnock Prunella modularis

Webpage

HBW species account...

Japanese Accentor Prunella rubida

Wiki

Japanese Accentor Prunella rubida

Webpage

BirdLife species profile...

Japanese Accentor Prunella rubida

Webpage

HBW species account...

Japanese Accentor Prunella rubida

Webpage

Avibase species account...

Japanese Accentor Prunella rubida

Webpage

Sound recordings and distribution map...

Japanese Accentor Prunella rubida

Webpage

Species account with images and maps...

Maroon-backed Accentor Prunella immaculata

Wiki

Maroon-backed Accentor Prunella immaculata

Webpage

BirdLife species profile...

Maroon-backed Accentor Prunella immaculata

Webpage

HBW species account...

Maroon-backed Accentor Prunella immaculata

Webpage

Avibase species account...

Maroon-backed Accentor Prunella immaculata

Webpage

Sound recordings and distribution map...

Maroon-backed Accentor Prunella immaculata

Webpage

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species status...

Maroon-backed Accentor Prunella immaculata

Webpage

IBC species account...

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 13

Useful Reading

Dunnock Behaviour and Social Evolution

By Nick B Davies | OUP | 1992 | Out of Print

ISBN: 0198546742

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Other Links

Polygynandry and the Alpine Accentor

Webpage

Article

Abundance and Breeding Ecology of Brown Accentors Prunella fulvescens in Lhasa, Tibet

Article

Brown Accentor Prunella fulvescens

Webpage

Distribution and status in Kazakhstan...

Dunnock Prunella modularis

Article

Food Distribution and a Variable Mating System in the Dunnock, Prunella modularis...

Dunnock Prunella modularis

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Photographers & Artists

Alpine Accentor - Prunella collaris

Gallery

Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris

Video

Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris

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Image

Altai Accentor Prunella himalayana

Webpage

Image

Robin Accentor Prunella rubeculoides

Video

Rufous-breasted Accentor Prunella strophiata

Webpage

Image

Siberian Accentor Prunella montanella

Webpage

Image

Brown Accentor Prunella fulvescens

Webpage

Image

Radde's Accentor Prunella ocularis

Image

Image

Radde's Accentor Prunella ocularis

Video

Arabian Accentor Prunella fagani

Gallery

Black-throated Accentor Prunella atrogularis

Image

Black-throated Accentor Prunella atrogularis

Image

Kozlov's Accentor Prunella koslowi

Image

Dunnock Prunella modularis

Video

Dunnock Prunella modularis

Gallery

Japanese Accentor Prunella rubida

Video

Japanese Accentor Prunella rubida

Image

Maroon-backed Accentor Prunella immaculata

Image

Maroon-backed Accentor Prunella immaculata

Image