Emberiza citrinella


The yellowhammer is a sparrow-sized, bright-yellow bird of woodland edges, hedgerows, heath and farmland that feeds on seeds and invertebrates. In the winter, they join mixed-species flocks of buntings, finches and sparrows to feed on seed in farmland. Yellowhammers are often seen perched on top of bushes singing their 'a little bit of bread and no cheese' song. The female builds a cup-shaped nest from grass and moss, laying between two and six eggs.

How to identify

The male yellowhammer is a striking bird: he has a bright yellow head and belly, with an orangey chest and streaky, brown back. Female buntings, including female yellowhammers and reed buntings, can be very difficult to tell apart.

Where to find it



When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Yellowhammer numbers have decreased significantly over recent decades - a decline mirrored by many of our farmland and garden birds. Changes in agricultural practices, such as the removal of hedgerows and increased use of pesticides, have had detrimental effects, but The Wildlife Trusts are working closely with farmers and landowners to promote wildlife-friendly practices. We are working towards a 'Living Landscape': a network of habitats and wildlife corridors across town and country, which are good for both wildlife and people. You can support this greener vision for the future by joining your local Wildlife Trust.

Local information

Chimney Meadows is found within the Upper Thames Living Landscape project area. Here old hedges have been re-laid which has benefitted birds such as yellowhammer. Having established a successful farming for wildlife project at Chimney Meadows, BBOWT is turning its attention to the Upper River Ray floodplain east of Oxford. The Upper River Ray Floodplain Living Landscape includes Meadow Farm and Upper Ray Meadows. Work will continue on both these sites to enhance and create habitat suitable for farmland birds, including yellowhammer, and other wildlife.

Another large-scale BBOWT project is the Bernwood Forest project which covers five nature reserves including Asham Meads. This project aims to enhance and recreate different habitats for a wide variety of wildlife including yellowhammer. It will regenerate woodlands, improve meadows and extend hedgerows for the benefit of wildlife and people. 

Yellowhammers have also found been at Pilch Field, Seven Barrows, Wells Farm, Avery's Pightle and Watts Bank.

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Species information

Common name
Latin name
Emberiza citrinella
Finches and Buntings
Length: 16cm Wingspan: 26cm Weight: 31g Average Lifespan: 3 years
Conservation status
Classified in the UK as a Red List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review and as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.