A dark babbler with abundant scaly markings and red-orange eyes. The exact pattern and coloration are extremely variable. The underparts can be mostly black with white scaling, or mostly white with dark scaling. There is often rufous on the rump and undertail, and sometimes elsewhere. Found very locally at middle elevations in central Kenya, in thickets, remnant natural forest, and scrub dominated by exotic species. Almost always in small groups, which feed by hopping across the ground. Easily separated from other babblers in its range by the abundant and variable scaling. Usually located by the raspy babbling call, typically given by a whole group in chorus.