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Yellowhammer

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Is the Yellowhammer right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Yellow Bunting

Scientific name: Emberiza citrinella

The basics:
Yellowhammers are hardy Eurasian finches that can thrive in well-planted temperate climate aviaries. Although not a beginner's species, these buntings can be a gratifying challenge for the finch breeder who is willing to feed live food in season and to manage the male's tendency to become aggressive. The bright yellow males may not reach their full color for two years. Yellowhammers are rural birds found in open farm country with some hedges nearby. Once common, their populations have fallen in some areas including the United Kingdom as a result of changing farming practices.

Appearance:
A fairly sturdy-looking finch. The adult male gives the impression of being a bright yellow bird with dark streaks on a brown back. Females and younger birds are more faded.

Weight:
31 grams (1 oz.)

Average size:
16 centimeters (6.3 in.)

Lifespan:
7 years

Behavior / temperament:
Male Yellowhammers need to be watched to make sure that they're not becoming aggressive toward their female partners or any other finches in the aviary.If you plan to breed these buntings for the show bench, get the proper show cages and start the training early so that your birds will be calm enough to display at their best.

Housing:
Although Yellowhammers reportedly do well in heavily planted, mixed-species aviaries when they're not breeding, the males can become very aggressive in season. Each pair needs its own separate aviary or very large flight which includes plenty of cover. The birds will likely build on an open canary basket placed low or even on the ground, as long as the potential nest is screened with plenty of vegetation.

Diet:
As the Yellowhammer's seed-cracking bill suggests, these finches eat a grass and cereal seed based diet. One breeder suggests mixed wild bird and weed seed. Another breeder feeds canary seed and millet sprays. As breeding season approaches, it's necessary to enrich the diet with higher protein foods such as eggfood and/or live grubs including tiny mealworms. The adults will demand a steady supply of high protein insect food to raise their young.

Written by Elaine Radford

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