Size: L: 15 cm. Wt: 17 g. Males and females similar. This species is seasonally dimorphic.

Breeding Adult: upperparts mottled brown, with obvious rufous in wings and tail, and reddish crown; throat whitish, with dark moustache stripes; face and breast grey, with faint, blurred streaks on breast; belly whitish; bill stout, conical, with blackish upper mandible, and orange lower mandible; legs brownish-orange

Winter Adult: upperparts as in breeding adult, but with grey, streaked crown; throat as in breeding adult; face grey; remainder of underparts similar to breeding adult, but buffier; bill and legs as in breeding adult

Juvenile: upperparts as in breeding adult, but with dark brown crown; throat buffy, with dark moustache stripes; face tawny; breast and sides buffy, with distinct blackish streaks; belly pale greyish, unstreaked; bill and legs as in breeding adult

Nestling: altricial and downy; skin pink; blackish-brown down on upperparts, with some white on underparts; mouth reddish-orange; gape flanges yellow