The Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella) is a passerine bird and is part of the bunting family.
The bright yellow plumage of the adult male Yellowhammer - along with his reddish-brown upper parts and white outer tail feathers - easily distinguish him from all other buntings and finches. The female is more sombre in appearance; being duller on the back and buffish with brown flecking on the breast.
Across much of the UK, they are birds of the open countryside, making them a familiar farmland species. They are often associated with hedgerows, bushes and wooded areas where they can be spotted quite easily on posts or tree stumps singing its well-known, high-pitched song: a "little bit of bread and no cheese". It's one of the finest sights and sounds of birds chirruping in the British countryside.
Yellowhammers forage for food mainly on the ground and their diet can be varied; consisting of seeds, grains, insects, spiders and small fruits - especially blackberries.
During the harshness of winter, when natural food supplies are low, cereal and seed mixes are most likely to attract them into the garden. Haith's Original Wild Bird Food is ideal for Yellowhammers; it's a good all-rounder as it can help attract lots of different species plus it's a great value for money bird food.
Feed from a tube-type seed feeder, sprinkle a little on the ground or place a handful on a bird table - the birds will soon find it and will take it happily as it offers adequate nutrition and plenty of variety.
Yellowhammers also eat Golden Chorus and Prosecto Insectivorous soft food mixes and these both offer something extra special as they contain beneficial oils and proteins.
Over the last 25 years, the Yellowhammer has declined in numbers and features on the "Red List" as it's a species of high conservation concern. Its decline is most likely a result of modern farming practices.
According to the BTO, "Reductions in winter seed food availability as a result of agricultural intensification (for example, the loss of winter stubbles and a reduction in weed densities) are widely believed to have contributed to the population decline.”
The Yellowhammer finds itself besieged from all sides with the changes in farming practices and habitat loss which threatens this iconic farmland bird. We can, however, help stabilise the population of these birds by welcoming them to our gardens and keeping our bird tables stocked up during the winter season, with good clean high-energy nibbles.
We're afraid it's all too common a tale - many birds continue to struggle and we need to continue our work together to help them until a better solution is made available in the countryside.
Written by Tina Jakes