Size: L: 28 cm. Wt: Males: 175 g. Females: 220 g. Males and females are similar in colour, but dimorphic in size. This species is not seasonally dimorphic.

Adult: chunky, with large head; elaborate plumage; upperparts heavily scalloped with black, whitish, buff, and grey; obvious grey chevron on back; head greyish-buff, with three large, black patches on crown and nape, separated by buffy lines; underparts buff to dark buff; tail rounded, tawny, with black band and white rectrix-tips; bill long, heavy, dark buff; legs short, tawny

Nestling: precocial and downy; upperparts tawny, with extensive black markings on back, head, and wings; dark stripes through and under eye, meeting in front and behind eye; underparts buffy; bill and legs flesh-coloured