Description: Males are glossy black with red shoulder patches broadly tipped with pale yellow. Females are dark brown above, heavily streaked below and sometimes show a red tinge on wing coverts or pinkish wash on chin and throat.
Habitat: Prefers thick vegetation in freshwater marshes, sloughs, and fields. Forages in nearby fields, orchards and woodlands.
Diet: Insects, seeds.
Displays: While elevated on vegetation, male spreads tail, droops wings, raises colored patches, fluffs feathers, leans forward with head pointing downward and sings. He also uses a slow, stalling song flight with tail spread, head down.
Nest: Near or over water on emergent vegetation or shrubs. It’s made of sedges, grass and lined with fine grass and rushes. Built in three to six days.
Eggs: Pale bluish-green, marked with dark colors. About one inch long.
Breeding bird atlas: To report bird breeding activity in your neighborhood, or to get information on the breeding bird atlas, call Sea and Sage Audubon Society members Sylvia Gallagher, (714) 962-8990, or Nancy Kenyon, (714) 786-3160.
Note: Map is divided into 5-kilometer squares so that Audubon Society volunteers can more easily survey areas on a regular basis.
Sources: Sea and Sage Audubon Society; “The Birder’s Handbook,” Ehrlich, Dobkin and Wheye, Fireside Books (1988); “Field Guide to the Birds of North America,” National Geographic Society (1987); “Birds of Southern California: Status and Distribution,” Garrett and Dunn, Los Angeles Audubon Society (1981).