The bird family
Emberizidae contains around 300 seed-eating species, the majority of which are found in the Americas, although the genus
Emberiza, with more than forty members, is confined to the Old World.
 Within its genus, the yellowhammer is most closely related to the
pine bunting, with which it forms a
superspecies; they have at times been considered as one species. The
cirl buntings are also near relatives of the species pair.
 Where their ranges meet, the yellowhammer and pine bunting interbreed; the yellowhammer is dominant, and the hybrid zone is moving further east.
The yellowhammer was described by
Linnaeus in his
Systema Naturae in 1758 under its current scientific name.
 Emberiza is derived from the
Old German embritz, a bunting,
 and citrinella is the Italian for a small yellow bird.
 The English name is thought to have come from ammer, another German word for a bunting, and was first recorded in 1553 as yelambre.
There are three recognised subspecies. E. c. citrinella (Linnaeus, 1758), the
nominate subspecies, occurs in southeast England and most of Europe east to the northwestern corner of Russia and western Ukraine, E. c. caliginosa (
Clancey, 1940) is the form found in Ireland, the
Isle of Man and Great Britain (except southeast England), and E. c. erythrogenys (
Brehm, 1855) breeds from Russia, central Ukraine and the eastern
Balkans eastwards to
Siberia and northwest Mongolia, and also has isolated populations to the east of the
Black Sea and in the