A small, gray-brown, heavily scaled and barred waxbill. The male has a characteristic red crescent throat band that the female and juvenile lack. Pairs and flocks are resident in arid thorn scrub, dry broadleaf woodland, and grassy scrub. The species joins flocks with other seedeaters in the non-breeding season. The female Red-headed Finch looks similar to the smaller female Cut-throat, but differs in its plain (not barred) head and its white-tipped outer tail.