Focus species: Yellowhammer

Emberiza citrinella

Yellowhammer, © Martin C. Fischer

The knowledge of various experts was included in the selection of the bird species.


  • Characteristics
    • Male: intense yellow head and underside, upperside rich brown with strong longitudinal stripes, rust-coloured rump, white tail edges.
    • Females: duller colouring, underside more heavily striped
    • Body length 16-17cm, wingspan 23-29 cm
  • Food
    • Insects, seeds
    • Yellowhammers often forage in cultivated land along fields, ditches and unpaved roads.
  • Habitat
    • Inhabits transition zones between forest and open landscape
      • Especially hedges, e.g. in cultivated land
      • Forest edges
      • Orchards
      • Vineyards
    • Best conditions offered by traditional agriculture and horse husbandry
  • Breeding
    • The breeding season lasts from April to August. 2 broods per year with 3-5 young are common.
    • The young birds leave the nest after 9-14 days.
    • Nap nests on the ground or near the ground at the edge of hedges
  • Migratory behaviour
    • Resident and short-distance migrant 
  • Distribution
    • In Switzerland, the yellowhammer is most common between 400 and 800 metres above sea level in the Central Plateau and Jura and in the central Valais and Lower Engadine.
    • At higher altitudes (>700m) the population is declining.
    • At lower altitudes, such as in the cantons of Vaud, Bern, Lucerne and Zurich, the population has increased.
    • Europe’s most widespread and common bunting
    • In Europe as a whole, populations tend to decline.

Landkarte zur Illustration der Veränderung der Brutrevierdichte der Goldammer
© Swiss Ornithological Institute, Swiss Breeding Bird Atlas 2013-2016
  • Endangerment and conservation measures
    • Red List Status (Switzerland): Least concern (LC)
    • The intensification of agriculture and land consolidation have reduced the food and habitat availability of the Yellowhammer.
    • The population started increasing since the 1980s, when more hedgerows were planted at lower altitudes and additional wildflower strips were created
    • The use of pesticides could have a negative impact on the population.