This section is from the book "The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation", by George Abbey. Also available from Amazon: The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation.
Inflicting some damage on corn crops, this bird is more or less injurious to the farmer, but, esteemed as a delicacy for the table, is not likely to increase inordinately. The capture of buntings is effected by dragging a long net of a certain construction, called a "draw-net," over stubbles at night, and in sharp weather by hair nooses attached to string and affixed to pegs over a trail of small seeds or corn "tailings."
In proportion to its numbers the yellow bunting takes toll of the cornfields, and is one of the many grain-feeding birds encouraged by "pheasant-feeds " in woods, and increased in consequence of the destruction of hawks. Shooting, in addition to the other means mentioned for the corn-bunting, is the usual practice in keeping down yellow-hammers, especially when on wing in rising from the ripening or ripe corn.
The forester and gardener has nothing to complain about respecting this bird, and the farmer very little, as with proper covering of seed-corn it does no harm but good by destroying insects, though varying its diet with vegetables and seeds. It feeds largely on the eggs and young of slugs which are deposited and lurk in the debris of meadows, and otherwise clears the surface of numberless insect pests. It ought to be protected all the year.
This bird is not frequently met with north of London, and in the woods of southern and central England is becoming rarer. The reason for this has been attributed to starlings turning them out of the holes in trees they have chosen for their nest, another reason is the bird-stuffer - prompted by stuffed-bird fanciers, and also bird millinery. Feeding mainly upon insects that infest the stems and branches of trees, it is of great service to the forester and also to the orchardist, while not prejudicing the fruit plantations, except in respect of cob-nuts and filberts. This, however, is not pronounced in districts where hazel-nuts, acorns, and beech-mast are plentiful, so that the bird altogether is most useful, and should be protected where not positively destructive.