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These are brown birds, slightly darker above and more tawny-brown on the underparts. During spring and summer, the crown and nape are dark and the throat is black. While breeding, the bill is whitish with a black band (“pied’), but otherwise is yellow-brown. Juveniles have striped faces.
Small, quiet ponds and marshes where thick vegetation grows out of the water. In winter they occurs on larger water bodies, occasionally in large groups.