Adult birds have gray upper parts and light underparts with pinkish flanks. They have dark wings and extremely long, forked black tails. Immature birds are duller in color and have shorter tails.
Their breeding habitat is open shrubby country with scattered trees in the south-central United States and northeastern Mexico. They build a cup nest in a tree or shrub on a branch, sometimes using artificial sites such as telephone poles. The male performs a spectacular aerial display during courtship with his long tail forks streaming out behind him. Both parents feed the young. Like other kingbirds, they are very aggressive in defending their nest.
These birds feed mainly on insects, which they catch by waiting on a perch and then flying out to catch them in flight (hawking). They also eat some berries.