Adults have a chestnut cap and black face with a black spot set in a white cheek. They are rich brown with dark streaking above and pale grayish white below. Juveniles are similar in pattern but much duller in color.
Forages singly or in flocks, hopping on the ground to pick up seeds, grain, or insects, sometimes gleaning food from grasses or trees. Males display in spring and fall, much like House Sparrows, chirping and fluffing the plumage to attract a female. Gathers into flocks in fall through early spring, foraging and roosting communally.