The breeding male is black with a pale blue bill, brightly-colored shoulder epaulets (chestnut in northeast Africa, yellow elsewhere), and diagnostic white wing panels that are most obvious in flight. The distinctive display is a slow butterfly-like flapping. The non-breeding male is buffy and streaky, but retains the shoulder epaulets and wing panel. The female lacks the wing pattern and has a pale unstreaked belly. Pairs and flocks are resident with local movements in open savanna, brushy grassland, swamps, and cultivated areas.