Cryptic rail with long, decurved bill. Adult has reddish-brown crown and nape, gray breast, and black-and-white barred belly. Darker juvenile very dull in comparison and lacks the reddish-brown crown. Buff-banded Rail has a chunkier bill and prominent pale eyebrow. This species is typically difficult to observe as it tends to hide in reed beds, where heard far more often than seen. Calls include a loud "kek-kek-kek-kek" as well as strange grunts and growls.