The Ecology of Yellowhammers Emberiza citrinella on lowland farmland.
The Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella population shows a unique trend among British farmland birds, remaining stable until the late 1980s and then starting a continuing steep decline. The breeding range has also contracted, especially in the west of Britain. Here, we synthesize results from the literature and recently completed studies of Yellowhammers on lowland farmland in order to make inferences about possible causes of the recent Yellowhammer decline and to suggest possible remedial action. Low hedges and perennial herbaceous field margins are used for nesting and are associated with high territory densities. Grass fields are avoided in both summer and winter, while cereal fields are increasingly used for foraging as the summer progresses. Stubbles, cereal-sown game-cover strips and gamebird feed sites are used for feeding in winter. Loss or degradation of hedges and field margins, loss of stubbles and intensification of grassland management may have reduced nest-site and food availability for farmland Yellowhammers. We suggest that the Arable Stewardship Pilot Scheme should benefit Yellowhammers in arable areas, but suggest that further research is required to identify possible remedial actions in pastoral areas.