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© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, Jouko Lehmuskallio, Kari Pihlaviita, M. & W. von Wright (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland). Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.

Yellowhammer

Emberiza citrinella

  • Family: Buntings – Emberizidae
  • Appearance: A largish and fairly long-tailed bunting with streaked patterning. Rump reddish brown, plumage has varying degrees of yellow colouring. Beak relatively small with a bluish grey lower mandible.
  • Size: Length 15.5–17 cm, weight 24–37 g.
  • Nest: On the ground, well concealed, made of dry grass, lined with fine roots and hair.
  • Breeding: 3–6 eggs laid April–May, usually incubated only by female, for 12–13 days. Fledglings remain in nest for 9–15 days. May raise a second brood.
  • Distribution: Breeds near farmland throughout Finland except in northernmost Lapland. Thrives in all kinds of semi-open habitats. During the winter a common visitor to bird tables wherever oats are put out for the birds. Finnish breeding population estimated at 800,000–1,200,000 pairs.
  • Migration: Sedentary, or may migrate short distances. Forms flocks in late autumn and winter. Migration most active October– November and March–April. Many birds winter in Finland, though others migrate to Southern Scandinavia and Central Europe.
  • Diet: Seeds, grain.
  • Calls: Call a sharp “chek”, song short and modest but distinctive.

Yellowhammers have brownish streaked backs and reddish brown rumps. Their tails are longish with white edges. Their colouring may vary considerably between individuals. There is always some degree of yellow colouring on their heads and underparts. Juveniles may only be slightly yellowish, but mature males may have more extensive bright yellow colouring, especially on their almost totally yellow heads. Yellowhammers’ underparts are varyingly streaked, with females and juveniles having the most streaks. Their legs are pale yellowish brown, their beaks are bluish grey with a paler lower mandible, and their irises are dark brown.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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