SCIENTIFIC NAME: Emberiza citrinella


The Yellowhammer is a bright-colored passerine bird in the bunting family.

It measures about 6.3 - 6.7 inches in length, with a wingspan of 10.2 inches and weight of 20 - 36 grams.

Males have a bright yellow head, heavily streaked brown back, rufous rump, yellow under parts, and white outer tail feathers.

Females are less brightly colored, and more streaked on the crown, breast, and flanks.

Both sexes are less strongly marked outside the breeding season, when the dark fringes on new feathers obscure the yellow plumage.

Juveniles are much duller and less yellow than the adults, and often have a paler rump.

After breeding, adults have a complete molt, which takes at least 8 weeks; males acquire more yellow in the plumage each time they molt.

Juveniles have a partial molt not long after fledging, replacing the head, body, and some covert feathers.

CALL: Contact call frequently giver by both adults is “twick” or “twitic”. A thin “see” is given as alarm call. A metallic “tzit” is commonly given from the ground or in flight. A liquid “trrp-trrp” is heard from the flying flocks.

SONG: Usually sings from perch such as treetop of fence post. The distinctive song is a series of rapid, high-pitched insect-like notes, followed by a thin wheeze “zi-zi-zi-zi-zi-zi teeeeeeeeeee” often described as “little bit of bread and no cheeeese”.

In eastern Europe, the song is mostly “tee-tee-tee-tee-tee-tee siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii”.

Feeds primarily on seeds, both of grass and cereals of various species. It also consumes invertebrates, especially during the breeding season.

Breeds in open woodlands, heathlands, scrub, cultivations and orchards, but it avoids the dense forest. It can be seen between 600 and 900 meters of elevation.

In the southern part of the range, it frequents forest clearings up to 2000 meters of elevation, favoring areas with close cultivated fields on high slopes.

In the northern part of the range, it can be seen at the edge of forest tundra and true tundra.

It frequents mostly agricultural areas during winter, foraging in unharvested cereal fields, pastures, orchards and forest edges.

During the autumn, the flocks roost in scrubby or marshy areas.

Found in Fennoscandia and SE England S to N Iberia, S France and Italy, and E to extreme NW European Russia, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary and Balkans.

The female builds the nest with dry grass and plant stems, leaves and some moss. The cup is lined with rootlets, soft grass and sometimes animal hair. It is generally placed among grass, at base of clump of tall grasses, bush or small tree, or sometimes protected inside a thorny bush.

She lays 2 - 6 whitish to pinkish-white eggs with fine dark spotting and incubates alone during 12 - 14 days, and broods the chick while the male brings food to the nest. Then, both parents feed the chicks, mainly on invertebrates. They fledge 11 - 13 days after hatching.


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