A small gray-brown and powder-blue waxbill with a blue-gray bill. The male is bright with extensively blue underparts, while the female is paler, often with a grayish belly. Pairs and small flocks are resident in dry savanna, cultivation, and rural villages close to permanent water for drinking. The species may disperse during drought. It frequently gives a loud and distinctive high-pitched “tsee-tsee-tsee” call, especially when flushed. The similar male Red-cheeked Cordonbleu has a diagnostic red cheek patch and pinkish bill, but hybrids have been recorded.