Family: Emberizidae, New World Sparrows view all from this family
Description ADULT BREEDING MALE Has mostly black plumage, but with striking white patch (mostly the greater coverts) on wings (obvious when perched and in flight). ADULT NONBREEDING MALE Has black elements of plumage replaced by streaked gray-brown on upperparts; underparts are whitish with bold dark streaks. ADULT FEMALE Recalls nonbreeding male, but plumage is paler overall and white on wing is restricted to less distinct patch formed by white edges to greater covert feathers. Note also the bold dark line bordering the pale throat. JUVENILE Similar to adult female, but with less distinct markings.
Dimensions Length: 6-7 1/2" (15-19 cm)
Habitat Common summer visitor (mainly May-Aug) to prairies; winters from southern U.S. to Mexico in grassland habitats.
Observation Tips Easy to see within range, in suitable habitats.
Range Mid-Atlantic, Texas, Plains, Great Lakes, New England, Eastern Canada, Southeast, Rocky Mountains, California, Western Canada, Southwest
Voice Song is a delightful and varied mixture of trills and shrill and liquid whistles; call is a soft hu-eee.
Discussion Large and well-marked, sparrowlike grassland bird, males of which are striking and unmistakable in breeding plumage. All birds have a stout, conical, blue-gray bill, and a white tip to the tail. Often perches on fences and forms large flocks outside the breeding season. Sexes are dissimilar.