We just got 10+" of snow in northwest Arkansas, and my backyard bird feeder is like Grand Central Station -- I have whole flocks of bird species that I don't ordinarily see at the feeder....
The bird(s) in question are (I think) Red-winged Blackbirds; these are common birds here in the summertime. I'm looking at the National Geographic Field Guide to Birds of North America, Fifth Edition, p 444.
The female looks very much like the picture (brown mottling with red tracery on the back & shoulders), but seems darker overall with much less white.
The MALE is the source of my question. The red shoulder patch that I'm used to seeing in the summer is almost NOT there -- it's just a small red streak.
QUESTION: am I seeing typical male winter plumage? Any illustrations (photos, drawings) available that show summer vs. winter plumage?