A pallid, medium-small, compact lark with a pale stout bill that appears swollen and a streaky crest that is often raised. The upperparts are sandy brown with indistinct dark streaks, the face is plain with a distinct eyebrow, and the breast shows very diffuse streaking on whitish underparts. Highly nomadic; small to very large flocks can appear after rains, sometimes associating with sparrow-larks or buntings, preferring arid grasslands on plains and gravel rather than sandy substrates. The species performs an aerial display with trills, whistles, and chirps. Often it rests in shade during the heat of the day with the crest raised, mouth open, eyes half shut, and wings drooped to aid in cooling.