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© Tom Marshall

Yellow Hammer (Emberiza citrinella)

A bird of open farmland and hedgerows the yellowhammer is distributed across the lowland areas of Cumbria. Breeding pairs estimated to be 22,000 in 2001.




Habitat – grassland and arable fields with hedges and banks, also commons and heaths, and on stubble fields in winter

Appearance – 16-16.5cm. a small bird slightly bigger than a chaffinch

Voice –  a sharp clipped “zit”, or soft “trillip”, or its well know song “ little bit of bread and no cheese”, which is repeated almost monotonously from February to August.

Food – mainly seeds also some insects and invertebrates.

Population changes / conservation – fall in numbers due to poor survival in severe winters but chiefly attributed to changes in farming practices, with crops being sown in autumn rather than spring thus removing the food source amongst the stubble. Reduction of field margins has also resulted in loss of food  availability.