Small seed-eating bird with a thick black bill. Male strikingly black-and-white, with much variation in extent of black breastband and white wingbars. Averages darker at western end of range (Ecuador and Peru), paler along coast of northeastern South America. Separated from other black-and-white seedeaters by dark bill, white throat and collar imparting cowled appearance. No known range overlap with similar Variable Seedeater. Females nondescript brown and very difficult to distinguish from other seedeaters, sometimes best left unidentified. Look for thick black bill with curved culmen. Found in disturbed habitats including pastures, river edges, and scrubby weedy areas. Usually in pairs or small flocks, sometimes mixed with other seedeater species.