The Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella) is a passerine bird in the bunting family Emberizidae. It is common in all sorts of open areas with some scrub or trees and form small flocks in winter.
The Yellowhammer is a robust 15.5–17 cm long bird, with a thick seed-eater’s bill. The male has a bright yellow head, yellow underparts, and a heavily streaked brown back. The female is much duller, and more streaked below.
Its natural diet consists of insects when feeding young, and otherwise seeds. The nest is on the ground. 3-6 eggs are laid, which show the hair-like markings characteristic of those of buntings.
Beethoven admitted he got the idea for the first four notes of his 5th symphony from the yellowhammer’s call. The bird prefaces the last, lower, note with 5 or more notes – instead of Beethoven’s three – and occasionally sings the last note higher than the others.
It breeds across Europe and much of Asia. In parts of Europe it is in serious decline; in the UK the species fell by 54% between 1970 and 2003. In Europe and Asia most birds are resident, but some far northern birds migrate south in winter.
Invertebrates – mainly, but not exclusively – taken through the breeding season: