yellowhammer defined in 1930 yearyellowhammer - Yellowhammer;
yellowhammer - Head, neck, breast, and under parts bright yellow, more or less streaked with dusky flanks streaked with brownish red; upper parts reddish brown spotted with dusky. Female: the yellow parts less bright, and spotted with dull reddish brown. Length, six and a quarter inches.
The yellowhammer, or yellow bunting, is one of the most generally diffused species in the British Islands, and, on account of its habit of always perching on the summit of a bush or other elevation, and of its bright yellow head and neck, which make it conspicuous at a distance, it is a familiar object to every person in the rural districts. It differs from the corn-bunting both in a brighter colouring and in a slimmer and more graceful figure. But it is a heavy bird nevertheless, of a sedentary disposition, and during the warm season spends a great portion of its time in sitting upright and motionless on its perch, uttering its song at regular intervals.
This species affects rough commons and waste lands in preference to fields, and where he is found you may hear his song at all times of the day, even during the sultriest hours; for although the yellow hammer remains with us throughout the year, and is able to resist the colds of winter, he is a great lover of heat. The song is very different from that of the species last described: it is composed of half a dozen or more short, reedy notes, all exactly alike, and shaken out, as it were, in a hurry, followed by a long, thin note, or by two notes, slightly melodious in character. It may be described as a trivial and monotonous song, but it is a summer sound which most people hear with pleasure, and the yellowhammer, or ' little-bit-of- bread-and-no-c-h-e-e-s-e,' as it is called in imitation of its note, is something of a favourite with country-people. The rustics have a story about the origin of the bread-and-no-cheese name, which they think very laughable; and one is certainly very much amused at the manner in which it is usually told. This is ponderous and slow, and strikes one as highly incongruous, the subject being only a childish legend about a little bird.
According to Yarrell, the Scotch peasants have some curious superstitions about the yellow yoldring, as they call it. To them its song sounds like the words ' Deil, deil, deil tak ye,' and the bird itself is supposed to be on very familiar terms with the evil being whose name it invokes so freely, and who supplies it on a May morning with a drop of his own blood with which to paint its curiously marked eggs.
About the middle of April the yellowhammer builds its nest, on or above the ground, among furze and bramble bushes, or at the roots of a hedge, or in a bank among grass and nettles. The nest is large but neatly made, outwardly of dry grass, stalks, roots, and moss, the inside being lined with fibres and horsehair. The eggs are four or five in number, purplish white in ground-colour, streaked and veined with deep reddish purple, with violet-grey under-markings.
The young males acquire the bright yellow head of the adult bird at the autumn moult.
Although this bird remains with us throughout the year, it has a partial migration. In autumn and winter it is seen in small flocks, often feeding in company with the common bunting and other finches. In winter its food consists principally of seeds; in summer it subsists largely, and feeds its young exclusively, on insects.
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