No similar species in its Andean range. Fairly common in open puna and páramo habitats; often near bogs in south of its range and in trees around timberline in north of its range. Mainly feeds on the ground. Nests in cavities in dirt bluffs, walls of old buildings, sometimes in colonies. Note the gray crown and buffy face with a dark whisker (on both sexes, but tipped red on male), big white rump patch, and yellow shafts to wing feathers (mainly visible in flight).