Medium-sized, dumpy finch with a stubby bill. Male are distinctive with a red head, breast, and rump, brown eye-mask, and white belly. The amount of red varies with age. Females and juveniles are a rather unprepossessing, uniform brown inviting confusion with female House Sparrows; note the two pale wingbars. Breeds at both low and high elevations in deciduous scrub, meadows, and marsh edges as well as clearings in forest. Far-carrying, whistled, typically 3-note song is memorable.