Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella

The yellowhammer is a sparrow-sized, bright-yellow bird of woodland edges, hedgerows, heath and farmland that feeds on seeds and invertebrates. 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.


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. In the winter, they join mixed-species flocks of buntings, finches and sparrows to feed on seed in farmland.


  • Length: 16cm
  • Wingspan: 26cm
  • Weight: 31g
  • Average Lifespan: 3 years


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.



When to see

January – December


  • Resident in the UK all year-round, our yellowhammers are joined by some Scandinavian birds during winter.

Common name


Species name

Emberiza citrinella

IUCN Red List status

Least concern

When to see in Scotland

January – December

Where to see in Scotland

Scottish Wildlife Trust reserves such as Falls of Clyde or Barnyards Marsh.

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