Dark, long-tailed, sparrow-sized bird of dense thickets. Body plumage is mostly dark gray with a bright rufous cap and wings. An uncommon and patchily distributed resident of tepui slopes and lowland forest; often found near large rock formations and in old disturbed areas in rainforest. Stays close to the ground, rarely emerging from dense cover. Occurs in pairs or small family groups that forage unobtrusively for insects and do not follow mixed-species flocks. Voice is only audible at close range but is usually the first indication of this bird’s presence: it is a low, gravelly note, given repeatedly and irregularly, often sped into a rolling churr. Pale-breasted Spinetail has a similar plumage pattern, but McConnell’s is much darker and occupies forested habitats that Pale-breasted avoids.