Breeding males are mostly black with a long tail. Varies geographically, with northern birds having a shorter tail and mainly orange shoulder patch, while southern birds have a longer tail and a yellow-and-orange shoulder patch. Females and non-breeding males are streaky and brown, though males retain their colorful shoulder. Breeds in marsh habitats, and uses a variety of open habitats in non-breeding season. Vocalizations include low rasps and twittering and sizzling calls. Northern breeding males similar to Fan-tailed Widowbird, but longer-tailed. Female can be confused with several other species, but is usually identified by association with orange-shouldered males.