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From Opus

Photo by Andy BrightMorston Downs, Norfolk, England, June 2002
Photo by Andy Bright
Morston Downs, Norfolk, England, June 2002
Emberiza citrinella


[edit] Identification

16–16·5 cm (6¼-6½ in).
Fairly big and long-tailed with unmarked red-brown rump and elements of yellow in plumage. Mantle/back olive-brown, heavily streaked black. Bill rather small, lower mandible light blue-grey. Much white on tail-corners, often seen in flight, when looks longer-tailed than e.g. Reed Bunting.

Summer Male: Unmistakable, having almost entirely yellow head with just a few dark markings on crown- and head-sides. Saturated yellow below, with much olive-green and red-brown on breast and with flanks streaked red-brown

Summer Female: Greyish-green, streaked crown, at times with a small yellow spot; grey-green head-side with no yellow. Underparts paler yellow, with greyish-black streaking on breast and flanks.

FemalePhoto by wilfredsdadGloucestershire, UK, August 2009
Photo by wilfredsdad
Gloucestershire, UK, August 2009

Autumn: often told by intimation of deep yellow on head and underparts, and by olive-green and red-brown colour on breast, rather like summer.

1st-winter often has almost wholly brown and streaked head and buff-white underparts with only faint yellow tinge; note: yellow on underparts can be hard to spot in field.

[edit] Distribution

Europe and Asia.

Predominantly resident, but many Scandinavian birds migrate Oct-mid Nov to North Sea countries, returning March/April.

[edit] Taxonomy

[edit] Subspecies

There are 3 subspecies[1]:

  • E. c. caliginosa:
  • E. c. citrinella:
  • E. c. erythrogenys:
Photo by maliLakenheath Warren, Norfolk, July 2009
Photo by mali
Lakenheath Warren, Norfolk, July 2009

[edit] Habitat

Breeds commonly in farmland, in bushy areas, woodland edge and wooded pasture, in glades and clearings, on heaths and coastal meadows.

[edit] Behaviour

Wary without being really shy, usually flushes early; often gains height, perches high in tree or drops into thick bushes.

[edit] Flight

Flight in long undulations and slightly jerky.

[edit] Diet

The diet includes insects when feeding young, and otherwise seeds.

[edit] Breeding

The cup shaped nest, built by the female, from grass and moss, and lined with hair and grass. It is usually on the ground amidst hedgerows, grasses, or shrubs. The 3-6 smooth, glossy and white with few purplish markings eggs are incubated by the female. Both parents feed the young.

[edit] Vocalisation

Listen in an external program

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from

[edit] External Links


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