This rare seedeater is most often found around bamboo at the scrubby edge of temperate zone forest, up to near treeline in the Andes. Disjunct populations are also found in the Santa Marta Mountains in Colombia and the Venezuelan tepuis. The male is dark slaty gray with a blacker face, a contrasting pale pinkish bill, and rufous undertail coverts. Females are paler and browner than males, with dark streaks on the back. Note the warmer rufous undertail coverts and pale bill on females. Can be found singly, in pairs, or small groups, occasionally following a mixed-species flock through the understory. Compare with Plain-colored Seedeater, which is often found in more open grassy habitats.