Key facts

Scientific name: Emberiza citrinella

Status: Resident breeding species

Breeding pairs: 710,000

Conservation status: Red

Length: 23 – 29 cm

Wingspan: 23 – 29 cm

Weight: 24 – 30 g


Known for its distinctive “a little bit of bread and no cheeeeeese” call, male yellowhammers have yellow heads and underparts, brown streaked backs and white outer tail feathers.

Females are less bright with more steaks on the crown, breast and flanks while juveniles are duller and much less yellow that adults


Yellowhammers generally build their nests close to the ground well hidden in bushes or grass. The cup–shaped nest is constructed from leaves, dry grass and stalks and lined with moss and hair.

Breeding usually starts in May and yellowhammers lay between 3-5 whitish eggs patterned with reddish marks. Incubation takes about 12-14 days and birds fly the nest 11-13 days later after being fed by both parents.


Yellowhammers will forage on the ground for seeds, cereals and grain. When not breeding yellowhammers will forage in large flocks often containing other buntings and finches.

During breeding season yellowhammers will also eat invertebrates such as grasshoppers, worms, caterpillars, spiders and snails.


Where to see them

Yellowhammers are found across the UK but are least abundant in the north and west and completely absent from some upland areas.

You will see them in open countryside near bushes and hedgerows. although they will venture into gardens particularly during winter.


Patrik Åberg/xeno-canto

Did you know?

Hammer is a corruption of the German ammer, meaning bunting.

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