This bulky sparrow of the Great Plains has a large head with a heavy blue-gray bill. In all plumages, note the extensive white in the greater wing coverts--appears as a white wing patch in flight--and white tips on outer tail feathers. Alternate Male: Unmistakable. Black overall with a large white patch on the wing. Basic Male: Gray-brown upperparts with dark streaks, and pale supercilium broad white malar stripes that contrast with dusky gray auriculars and black lores and submalar area. The white wing patch is reduced, but still obvious, especially in flight. Underparts are whitish with heavy dark streaks. Shows some black on face and upper breast. Alternate Female: Similar to basic male, but lacks any black on face and breast. Whitish malar stripe bordered by heavy black lateral throat stripe. White wing patch is mottled brown, but still obvious in flight. Basic Female: Warmer brown overall, with buffy wing patch and feather edges.
Length: 14 (cm) Wingspan: 28 (cm)
Song is a long series of low whistles, usually paired, interspersed with rattling trills. Call is a soft hoo-ik.
Grasslands, sage steppe, agricultural fields.
Male sings while flying upward with stiff wingbeats, then gliding downward. Forms large flocks in winter. This species' habit of foraging along roadsides often proves fatal.
Feeds on insects, seeds, and leaves.
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