A fairly small, long-tailed bird of lowland and foothill forest interior. Plain brown underparts and head with rufous wings and rump. Black tail with obvious white tips which it often keeps fanned and cocked. Does not normally co-occur with other brown fantails. Possible overlap with Arafura Fantail although that species has black face and chest markings. Similar to female Rufous Fantail but Rufous-backed is found at lower elevations and lacks the rufous underparts and head. Voice, a lazy, downward series of slurred whistles, sounding like ‘Three Blind Mice’.