A medium-sized, slender lark with a longish thin bill and long legs. Features can be variable, but generally the species has brown-reddish upperparts and plain buffy underparts that are very lightly streaked. As the similar-looking long-billed larks have separate ranges, location is a key factor in identification, but this is the smallest, plainest, and shortest-billed member of the complex. It strides purposefully through dry open grassland near rocky outcrops, running quickly before pausing to peck at the base of grass tussocks or pick at shrubs for invertebrate prey. In a characteristic display the male flies low to the ground, before flying directly up 10 to 15 meters, and then closing its wings and plummeting toward the ground while typically emitting a descending one-note “seeeoooouuu” whistle. This call and similar ones can also be given from the ground. Most larks in the same range are smaller; this species could be confused for a pipit, but reddish upperparts and lack of white outer tail feathers eliminate that possibility.