This drab tanager-like sparrow is common and noisy in its limited range, often parading around in rambunctious flocks. Sexes are similar: olive above and gray below with a stout bill and reddish or pale eyes. Lack of yellow anywhere on the underparts helps separate it from other chlorospingus. Occurs in cloud forest and edges from around 700–2200 m. Small groups typically move through the understory and middle levels, occasionally straying into the canopy. Frequently follows mixed-species flocks. Listen for its piercing squeaks and chips, sometimes accelerating into a messy chatter.