name = Yellowhammer
status = LC
status_system = iucn3.1

image_width = 200px
regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Aves
ordo = Passeriformes
familia = Emberizidae
genus = "Emberiza"
species = "E. citrinella"
binomial = "Emberiza citrinella"
binomial_authority = Linnaeus, 1758
"For the American woodpecker or Alabama state troops, see Yellowhammer (disambiguation)"

The Yellowhammer, "Emberiza citrinella", is a passerine bird in the bunting family Emberizidae, which breeds across Europe and much of Asia. The Yellowhammer was introduced to New Zealand in 1862 and is now common and widespread there. It is probably more abundant in New Zealand now than in Europe where it is in serious decline, (in the UK the species fell by 54% between 1970 and 2003). In Europe and Asia most birds are resident, but some far northern birds migrate south in winter. It is common in all sorts of open areas with some scrub or trees and form small flocks in winter.

The Yellowhammer is a robust 15.5-17 cm long bird, with a thick seed-eater's bill. The male has a bright yellow head, yellow underparts, and a heavily streaked brown back. The female is much duller, and more streaked below. The familiar, if somewhat monotonous, song of the cock is often described as "A little bit of bread and no cheese".

It has been claimed by Carl Czerny that the Yellowhammer's song was the inspiration for the "fate" motif of the Symphony No. 5 by Ludwig van Beethoven.

Its natural diet consists of insects when feeding young, and otherwise seeds. The nest is on the ground. 3-6 eggs are laid, which show the hair-like markings characteristic of those of buntings.


It is most commonly found on lowland arable and mixed farmland, probably due to the greater availability of seeds. It nests in hedges, patches of scrub, and ditches, especially if these have a wide grass margin next to them, and a cereal crop next to the margin. Hedges of up to two meters tall are preferred, and they will not nest until it is in full leaf, building the nest next to the hedge if it is built before this. In winter, the flocks feed at good seed sites, such as newly-sown fields and over-wintered stubbles.


Seeds of:

* Cereal, grasses (eg Meadow Grass, Fescue, Ryegrass), Common Nettle, dock, knotgrass "Polygonum aviculare", Fat Hen "Chenopodium album", Common Chickweed "Stellaria media", Mouse-ear "Cerastium", Bramble, Vetches, Clover, Forget-me-not, Dandelion, Knapweed, Sow-thistle "Cicerbita", Yarrow, Plantains "Plantago"

Invertebrates - mainly, but not exclusively - taken through the breeding season:

*Springtails, mayflies, grasshopper, cockroach, earwigs, bugs Hemiptera,lacewings, caddis flies, sawflies, spiders, woodlice, millipedes, caterpillars, flies, beetles, earthworms, snails

They are more able to feed on the slower-moving invertebrates.


* Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
* RSPB A management guide to birds of lowland farmland

External links

*ARKive - [ images and movies of the yellowhammer "(Emberiza citrinella)"]
* [ Ageing and sexing (PDF) by Javier Blasco-Zumeta]


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Yellowhammer — Yel low*ham mer, n. [For yellow ammer, where ammer is fr. AS. amore a kind of bird; akin to G. ammer a yellow hammer, OHG. amero.] (Zo[ o]l.) (a) A common European finch ({Emberiza citrinella}). The color of the male is bright yellow on the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • yellowhammer — ► NOUN ▪ a common bunting, the male of which has a yellow head, neck, and breast. ORIGIN hammer is perhaps from Old English amore (a kind of bird) …   English terms dictionary

  • yellowhammer — [yel′ōham΄ər] n. [altered by folk etym. < earlier yelambre < OE geolu,YELLOW + amore, a kind of bird, akin to OHG amaro, emmer, a kind of finch that fed on emmer] 1. a small European bunting (Emberiza citrinella) having a yellow head, neck …   English World dictionary

  • yellowhammer — noun Etymology: alteration of earlier yelambre, from Middle English *yelwambre, from yelwe yellow + *ambre yellowhammer, from Old English amore; akin to Old High German amaro yellowhammer, amari emmer Date: 1587 1. a common Palearctic finch… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • yellowhammer — /yel oh ham euhr/, n. 1. a common European bunting, Emberiza citrinella, the male of which is marked with bright yellow. 2. Chiefly Southern U.S. a flicker, Colaptes auratus, having yellow wing and tail linings. [1550 60; earlier also yelamber,… …   Universalium

  • yellowhammer — UK [ˈjeləʊ ˌhæmə(r)] / US [ˈjeloʊ ˈhæmər] noun [countable] Word forms yellowhammer : singular yellowhammer plural yellowhammers a European bird that has a yellow head and a musical call …   English dictionary

  • Yellowhammer — geltonoji starta statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas atitikmenys: lot. Emberiza citrinella angl. Yellowhammer vok. Goldammer …   Paukščių anatomijos terminai

  • yellowhammer — geltonoji starta statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas atitikmenys: lot. Emberiza citrinella angl. yellowhammer vok. Goldammer, f rus. обыкновенная овсянка, f pranc. bruant jaune, m ryšiai: platesnis terminas – tikrosios startos …   Paukščių pavadinimų žodynas

  • yellowhammer — noun a) A passerine bird, Emberiza citrinella, of Eurasia which is mainly yellow in colour. b) A native or resident of the American state of Alabama …   Wiktionary

  • yellowhammer — yel|low|ham|mer [ˈjeləuˌhæmə US louˌhæmər] n a small European bird with a yellow head …   Dictionary of contemporary English