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The plumage of birds is often very colourful, everything is represented up to yellow. Yellow-headed birds native to us are presented here.

In a nutshell

  • many songbirds have yellow markings on their heads
  • a full yellow head is rather rare
  • in goldcrests the yellow feathers are more visible when excited, they can be erected
  • Females of all bird species often have yellow plumage, but are generally less conspicuous

Types from A - F

Siskin (Carduelis spinus)
Family: Finches

  • Characteristics: smaller than a sparrow, slender, greenish-yellow plumage, more intensely colored in males, with black headstock and chin spot; females without black
  • Food: Insects, seeds, nuts, tallow (at the bird feeder)
  • Breeding: April to July, two broods, nest high in conifers, built of straw, moss and lichen
  • Occurrence: Spruce and mixed forests, mountain forests up to the tree line, in winter in the lowlands

Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)
Family: branch singers

  • Characteristics: yellowish plumage, slender and delicate, yellow eye stripe
  • Food: small insects, spiders
  • Breeding: May to June, one to two broods, near the ground, between tall grass or under low branches, nest is covered and built of grass, feathers and moss
  • Occurrence: Light deciduous and mixed forests, conservation areas, wetlands, hedges with willows or birches in gardens and parks

Types of G - J

Yellow Warbler (Hippolais icterina)
Family: branch singers

  • Characteristics: yellowish grey, lighter belly, orange beak
  • Food: insects and spiders
  • Breeding: May to July, one brood, in forked branches of bushes and young trees, height between one and three meters, nest made of stalks, leaves and tree bark, also with cobwebs
  • Occurrence: light deciduous and mixed forests, alluvial forests, parks, copses, gardens

Serin (Serinus serinus)
Family: Finches

  • Characteristics: yellow head, especially around the face; Females more grey-green
  • Food: Seeds, parts of plants, insects
  • Breeding: April to July, two broods, nest halfway up in coniferous trees, hedges or bushes, built of roots, stalks and moss
  • Occurrence: Cemeteries, parks, gardens, light deciduous and mixed forest

Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)
Family: buntings

  • Characteristics: Males have a golden-yellow head, otherwise spotted reddish-brown to grey-brown; Females with less yellow
  • Food: Insects, spiders, seeds, grain, plant parts
  • Breeding: April to July, two broods, low nest near the ground in hedges or small trees
  • Occurrence: Structure-rich landscapes with hedges, in spruce protection areas, in winter in villages

Notice: Yellowhammers often colonize larger hedges on fields.

Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)
Family: Finches

  • Characteristics: yellowish-green plumage, yellow is particularly noticeable in flight; Females less colorful, more grey
  • Food: Seeds, buds, flowers, insects, sunflower seeds
  • Breeding: April to August, two to three broods, half-height nest in dense bushes and trees
  • Occurrence: light mixed forests, forest edges, hedges, parks, gardens

Types of K - O

Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes)
Family: Finches

  • Characteristics: Stocky, very thick bill, which is horn-colored in winter and steel-blue in summer; males are colorful with brown, orange, and yellow foreheads; females paler
  • Food: Seeds of deciduous trees, especially beech and maple, stone fruit pits, buds, insects
  • Breeding: April to June, one to two broods, nest made of twigs, roots and culms, high in deciduous trees
  • Occurrence: Deciduous and mixed forest, parks, gardens, especially in beech and maple

Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris)
Family: Larks

  • Characteristics: face mask yellow and black, top body brown, bottom grey; Plain plumage, especially females, paler
  • Food: Insects, spiders, seeds, parts of plants
  • Breed: breeds in northern Europe
  • Occurrence: in winter on the North Sea and Baltic Sea coasts, beach meadows and wastelands

Ortolan (Emberiza hortulana)
Bunting family

  • Characteristics: gray head in breeding plumage, reddish-brown breast, dark elytra, yellowish throat and rings under the eyes, plain plumage is lighter and less conspicuous
  • Diet: Seeds, insects during the breeding season
  • Breeding: May to July, one to two broods, ground breeders, nest hidden, made of stalks, grass and roots
  • Occurrence: Meadow orchards, rows of deciduous trees, country roads, streams, forest edges, copses, prefers mild climates and the lowlands

Types of P - V

Golden oriole (Oriolus oriolus)
Family: Orioles

  • Characteristics: black and yellow; Females have greyish-white underparts and red-orange bill
  • Food: larger insects and their larvae, berries, fruit
  • Brood: May to July, one brood, bowl nest in branch forks, usually high in deciduous trees, made of straw, bast or paper
  • Occurrence: old deciduous forests, alluvial forests, parks, avenues, pine forests, in the lowlands

Firecrest (Regulus ignicapillus)
Family: Goldcrest

  • Characteristics: yellowish green on top, lighter on the underside, brownish wings, bright orange crown in males; yellow in the female
  • Food: smallest insects, spiders and larvae
  • Breeding: May to July, two broods, nest on the underside of conifer branches, consists of moss and webs
  • Occurrence: Coniferous forest, cemeteries, parks, gardens, bushes

Types of W - Z

Wood Warbler (Phylloscopus sibilatrix)
Branch singer family

  • Characteristics: Throat, breast and eye stripe yellow, whitish underneath, greyish yellow above
  • Food: insects, their larvae, spiders
  • Breeding: May to July, one brood, rarely two, nest of grass, leaves and ferns in low vegetation
  • Occurrence: Deciduous and mixed forest, mainly beech forest

Goldcrest (Regulus regulus)
Family: Goldcrest

  • Characteristics: Upper surface greyish, olive green or brownish, underside whitish, apex yellow with a black border
  • Food: smallest insects, spiders, larvae
  • Breeding: April to June, two broods, nests in forked branches of conifers
  • Occurrence: Coniferous forest or parks and gardens with coniferous trees

Notice: Goldcrests are among the smallest birds in Europe.

Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
Family: branch singers

  • Features: inconspicuous greyish-yellow, no pronounced yellow head, but yellowish eye stripe
  • Food: small insects, spiders
  • Brood: April to July, one or two broods, nest with a lot of dry foliage, near the ground
  • Occurrence: Deciduous and mixed forests rich in undergrowth, alluvial forest, dense, high bushes, parks and gardens

Lemon Canary (Serinus citrinella)
Family: Finches

Source: Sandra from France, Carduelis citrinella -Plateau de Beille, Ariege, Midi-Pyrenee, France-8 (2), edited by Plantopedia, CC BY 2.0
  • Characteristics: plumage grey, yellowish and black stripes on wings, face and underparts yellow; Females with less yellow
  • Food: seeds of conifers, herbs and grasses, insects
  • Breeds: April to August, one to two broods, nests high in conifers, nest consists of grasses, moss, roots and lichen
  • Occurrence: loose coniferous forest from about 1400 m up to the tree line, rarely overwinters here

frequently asked Questions

How can birds be supported?

The best support is a natural garden where birds can find shelter, food and breeding grounds.

Can free-roaming cats be dangerous to conspicuously colored birds?

Birds are part of a cat's prey spectrum, regardless of coloration. However, yellow-headed birds are particularly noticeable and can attract cats. Protecting birds from cats is very difficult, most importantly not letting the cat go outside when it is known that young birds are just fledged.

Do young birds already have a yellow head?

In most cases, young birds are drawn more simply than adults. They often have plumage mottled with brown, black, white, and gray. This is the best way to protect them from predators.

Why are the males so conspicuous?

Birds with brightly colored plumage or yellow heads attract females more quickly. This ensures reproduction.

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