About 16 centimetres long, the male yellowhammer has a red-brown rump, bright yellow head, yellow underparts and a heavily streaked brown back. The female has less yellow and predominating greyish-green colours. It has a thick bill, typical of seed-eating birds.
The yellowhammer is commonly found on farmland, in hedges and scrub, as well as in clearings, heaths and coastal meadows. It is present throughout Europe, with only the northernmost populations migrating in winter.
The distinctive call of the yellowhammer was Beethoven’s inspiration for the first four notes of his Fifth Symphony. The yellowhammer eats seeds, or insects when feeding young.