Stout and stocky with short legs and a thick bill. Back brown with black streaking, male with gray crown, chestnut bordering crown and on nape; cheek white, black bib. Female with gray-brown crown and postocular line, pale buff supercilium, unmarked throat and breast. Tail is 3/4 of the length of the wing (Lowther and Cink 2006).
For a comprehensive review of the conservation status, habitat use, and ecology of this and other Montana bird species, please see Marks et al. 2016, Birds of Montana.
Western Hemisphere Range
Breeding habitat is mostly associated with human modified environments such as farms, and residential and urban areas. Absent from extensive woodlands, forests, grasslands, and deserts. During postbreeding flocking, birds move into areas farther from breeding areas (e.g. grain fields rather than farmsteads). Winter habitat is the same as breeding habitat (Lowther and Cink 2006).
Have been known to eat livestock feed. Grains, weed seeds, relatively few insects. Urban birds eat commercial birdseed (Lowther and Cink 2006).
This species did not occupy all of Montana until sometime between 1898 and 1908.
Nest often in enclosed spaces. If they nest in trees the nest usually is a globular structure with a side entrance and may share a wall with a neighboring nest. Successful birds may have up to 4 clutches per season. Clutch size varies from 1 to 8 eggs (Lowther and Cink 2006). Young have been reported in the nest on July 4 in Gallatin County. Nesting typically begins in early April and may last to mid-September.