Searches for insects by clearing leaves and other vegetation with the bill and feet. Also plucks berries from vegetation while perched, usually low in brush or trees. Males sing from conspicuous perches in early spring.
Lives year-round in brushy habitats of southern Texas, especially in remnants of original habitat (known as Tamaulipan brushlands) but also in developed areas, so long as adequate brush and leaf litter are present.
Ornithologists recognize two subspecies, the paler, grayer sennetti of southern Texas and adjacent Mexico; and the darker, more chestnut longirostre, of the southern part of the range.