This bird is common in southeastern Canada and eastern United States west to Great Plains Its range is expanding west and southwest to Arizona, New Mexico, California. It can be found in brushy pastures, fields grown to scrub, open clearings, and rural roadsides. It can often be seen perched on wires.
The male is a rich deep almost iridescent blue overall with dark wings with no wing bars. It has a large sparrow-like bill. It is smaller than the similar Blue Grosbeak. In poor light it appears black.
It sings late into August even at midday.
The female has drab brown upper parts with buffy underparts. Its beast is lightly streaked. It resemblesthe female Varied Bunting.
The song is an excitable warble.