A small, sparrow-like canary with different-looking males and females. The male is chestnut, white, and black, with the black continuous from the nape to the spurs on the breast in the Black-headed group, and with the black areas mixed with white in the Damara group. The female has a uniform gray-brown head and a chestnut back and tail. In the breeding season the species occurs in pairs and small groups, but during the non-breeding season it may gather in flocks of up to 200 and may mix with other species. It is resident but nomadic throughout arid scrub, following rain and seeding events.