Simon Hales has kindly sent through some shots of a singing male Yellowhammer at Harrington Airfield. Locally we are fortunate in Northants as we still maintain a healthy population of these birds, but the picture isn't the same in other parts of the country where this species has diminished.
The Yellowhammer like many buntings has a lengthy breeding season and the males sing from early spring until early autumn. Although they feed their unfledged young on invertebrate food, they are reliant on seeds for much of the remainder of the year, and crucially it is a typical species that probably suffers the 'hunger gap' period in late winter/spring when there is very little natural food left. It is very likely that the comparative lack of winter stubble fields these days is one of the reasons why there is less food available, and this species is always going to be responsive to local and national agricultural processes.
It as actually one of my favourite birds. I think the adult males are absolutely stunning, but the plumage of the duller females is particularly intricate and full of super browns, russet and chestnut and soft yellow tones.
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