A large nectar-eating bird with a decurved beak and a long graduated tail. Dull brown above, it has strong moustache-like stripes and a yellow undertail. Pairs breed in mature mountain fynbos, where they are tied to flowering Proteas. After breeding they become nomadic, moving to areas where food is available. The species sings a characteristic grating, chipping, and twanging song. The smaller Gurney’s Sugarbird is similar, but has a much shorter graduated tail, a rusty breast and crown, and a less harsh song, and lacks the moustache-like stripes on the face.