Adults have upperparts streaked with brown, grey, black and white; they have a light brown breast, a white belly and a short brown tail. Their face is light brown with an eye ring and a dark brown crown with a central narrow light stripe. There are regional variations in the appearance of this bird.
They forage on the ground in vegetation, mainly eating insects, especially grasshoppers, and seeds.
This bird's song is a buzz resembling the sound made by a grasshopper. Like many grassland birds, this bird's numbers have declined across many parts of its range, including a 98% drop in New York State.