Chunky, thick-billed sparrow that prefers wide open habitats. Breeding males are unmistakable: mostly jet black with a bold white wing patch. Nonbreeding males and females are overall streaky brown, but still show white wing patch. Always look for the thick silvery bill. Breeds in grasslands, especially shortgrass prairies. In migration and winter, can be found in open areas from grassland to desert to agricultural areas. Sometimes gathers in huge flocks in winter. Usually seen on the ground or perched on a fence.