Small bird with thin pointed bill. Upperparts gray-brown, underparts off-white, with dark streaking on throat and breast, reddish-brown rump, white flecking on forecrown, and dark red eye. Often cocks tail upright. Similar Brown Thornbill has brown rather than gray-brown upperparts. Chestnut-rumped and Buff-rumped thornbills both have pale eyes, unstreaked chest, and mostly black tails. Inhabits dry woodland and scrubland, also in wetter habitats in southwestern edges of its range.