Secretive bunting of reedbeds and grassy fields. Not as social as Reed and Pallas's Buntings and doesn't expose itself as often; usually solitary, sticking to dense clusters of fallen vegetation near the ground. Breeding male is unique in the region for his entirely black head. Adult female and nonbreeding male have a ghost of the coal-black head; head patterning can be evocative of Meadow Buntings, which are much larger. Ochre rump is visible in all plumages and is diagnostic, but it can be difficult to see.