A tiny porcelain ball of a bird mounted on wire-thin legs. Rich dark chocolate brown above and finely scaled below with distinctly black-centered pale fathers; darker birds have black-and-tan underparts, while light birds have black-and-white ones. Speckling of tan spots on the crown and neck distinguish this species from the smaller Pygmy Cupwing. Extremely similar to closely related Scaly-breasted Cupwing; best distinguished by range and song. Shy and difficult to see. Skulks about in wet, well-shaded areas in foothill and montane forests, often near streams, gullies, and boulder fields. Far more easily heard than seen; listen for its a loud ascending series of fluid warbling notes.