Stocky, short-tailed birds, distinguished from other black birds by their distinctive chunky shape. Adult upperparts appear black but are glossy greenish black. The yellow bill is sharp-pointed and long. In fall after molting, the wings and tail are edged in brown; the entire plumage is speckled with white spots. In winter, the bill is brownish yellow and darker; the white speckling wears off toward spring. Young birds are brownish gray with dull streaking below and a brown bill.