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The beautiful Yellowhammer sings his song in the heat of the summer afternoon, a cheerful repetitive song he keeps up all day long. He will usually sing from an exposed perch, such as a fence post or wire, or a bush top or open branch.

The Yellowhammer is a bunting, rather than the finch that most think of him as, they have a long white edged tail, with a flat topped head, with a thinner top beak.

They frequent bushes, hedgerows and heath land, also, the Gorse and Bracken above cliffs. They appear on the red list due to the decline of these natural habitats.

Diet is mainly, grass seeds, cereal grain, and in the summer, invertebrates.  Males are unmistakeable with a bright yellow head and underparts, brown back streaked with black, and chestnut rump.

Found across the UK but less so in the north and west.  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. Tall hedges are preferred, and they nest after it is in full leaf.


Quick Facts

Number of broods
2 or 3

Clutch Size
3-4 eggs

13-55 days

Egg Size
22x16 mm

Maximum Recorded Age
11 years, 9 months

Typical Lifespan
3 years

Age at First Breeding
1 year

Number in Britain

16 cm

Conservation Status UK

Status in UK
Resident Breeder, Passage/Winter Visitor

26 cm


Grassland, farmland, coastal cliffs

First Record
8th Century

Egg Weight
2.9 g

13-16 days

First clutches laid
Early May

  • The song is made up of short quick repetitive notes that sound like the bird is saying ‘a little bit of bread and no cheese.’
  • It is one of the brightest coloured of our native birds.
  • They like to live on farmland, woodlands and heaths.
  • Yellowhammers like to sit on high branches to sing.
  • With hedgerows disappearing and intensive farming, the Yellowhammer is disappearing and is a threatened species.
  • Yellowhammers nest on or close to the base of hedgerows, shrub or in a low bank.
  • They breed until the end of August.
  • Yellowhammers are polymorphic, that is to say they have several different plumages, with the male having the most colourful in the breeding season.
  • They are seen all year round.

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