Latin Name: Emberiza citrinella
A long, slim bunting, the male Yellowhammer has a sulphur-yellow head streaked with light brown. The upperparts and rump are chestnut-brown, streaked darker on the back. The breast is chestnut, shading to pale on the belly.
The female and juvenile resemble a much duller version of the male and often show very little yellow in their plumage and are therefore often confused with other species of bunting or sparrow.
15.5 - 17cm
Mainly farmland and rural gardens.
Bulky, of grass or straw, low in gorse or tussock Nests.
3 - 5, pale with dark 'scribbling'.
Insects during the breeding season, seeds, cereals and berries all year round.
A variety of stifled, short, clicking calls. Familiar 'little-bit-of-bread-no-cheese'.
The Yellowhammer, with its striking yellow and brown plumage is one of the best-known birds in rural Britain. They are mainly a bird of arable farmland, often seen in stubble fields and farmyards throughout the year.
As with many other farmland species, however the Yellowhammer is currently undergoing a major population decline.The Yellowhammer often sings throughout the summer, continuing after many other birds have fallen silent. In winter they are social, roosting in large numbers in rank vegetation, sometimes in reed beds and even on occasion in snow burrows.
As food shortages in the surrounding countryside reach their peak, rural gardens may have visits from this arable bird. Large flocks of Yellowhammer with other buntings and finches, have been seen in large gardens to feed on seed and grain.
You will be very lucky to see Yellowhammers nesting in your garden as they tend to breed mainly on farmlands, rather than in gardens. The males are aggressive when setting up their territory and pursue their prospective mate in a rapid, twisting courtship flight. The dark, irregular lines on the egg have given rise to the country name of 'scribbling lark'. Once paired, both birds often feed together and gather food for their young together away from the nesting territory. The young are fed almost entirely on green caterpillars and insects.