Small, brownish bird with a long, spiky tail. Inhabits grassland and dense scrub at high elevations from western Venezuela to northern Argentina; southern populations were formerly split as Puna Canastero. Rather nondescript; plain brown underparts and dark streaks on upperparts help distinguish it from other similar canasteros. Also note some rufous in wings and tail. Sometimes shows tiny orange chin patch. Forages on the ground, where it is hard to see, but occasionally ascends to a more open perch to rest or sing. Song is a fast, high pitched, rattling trill, starting a bit slower and accelerating.