Breeding male is distinctive with black body, white rump, and creamy nape. Females and nonbreeders are drastically different, yellow-brown with fine streaking on breast sides, and stripes on head. Smaller than Red-winged Blackbird with shorter bill. Spiky tail feathers. In the blackbird family, although often mistaken as a sparrow. Breeds in open fields. Listen for male's bubbly song. Often in flocks during fall migration; departs early for wintering grounds in South America.