Nick Baker's Nesting Favourites – No. 6
"The ‘dirty dunnock' is possibly a little racy for inclusion here. Also known as the hedge sparrow, it's Britain’s only native breeding member of the Accentor family - so it really isn't a sparrow at all.
This is a bird that's famously promiscuous, with all sorts of loose family arrangements. These stretch from regular monogamous pairings to complex set-ups involving shared females and males, threesomes and even group nesting, with everyone sharing each other! But that aside it’s also the owner of one of the most under-appreciated voices in the garden. What’s more, they’ll sing when many other fussy species will not.
Listen out for a lovely bouncy warbling song, typically delivered from the top of a hedge, often when it’s a bit gloomy. Other than this they tend to lurk and loiter: they're easy to miss, even though we have probably all got a dunnock nesting nearby.
Because of the complexity of their breeding relationships, following a bird back to a nest can get a little confusing. But if and when you do, you could be lucky to see a clutch of 4-5 sky blue eggs (20mm x 15mm) that rival those of the song thrush."