A small finchlike bird with a short and stubby bill. Males are a striking combination of gray, black and a rich cinnamon color. Males have a black breast and cheeks, a cinnamon belly, and a gray helmet that becomes brownish towards the back. Male “melanops” morphs have a black hood and are olive-brown above and pale below. Females are olive-brown above and buff below. Both sexes have a white wing spot that is not found in the “melanops” morph. Inhabits mature grasslands, usually near water, where it is often seen in flocks with others seedeaters during migration.