It measures about 12 cm. It is brown in color, with a striped belly. Males are characterized by having a red chest, forehead, and supraocular line and rump in shades ranging from bright red to almost orange. Females have greyish brown plumage on the dorsal parts and brown on the ventral parts, but they are distinguished by having stripes on the chest and belly and being more slender. Both sexes have relatively thick beaks.
It is abundant in much of North America. It usually lives in cities, suburbs, farms and canyons, can be seen especially in parks, bushy areas, trees and buildings. Avoids dense forests or grasslands. Their original habitat was likely found in trees alongside streams and weeds in dry fields, forest edges, chaparral, and other semi-open areas.
It eats mainly seeds, sprouts and berries. Much of their diet consists of plant matter. It feeds on herb seeds. Other important foods are buds and some flower parts in spring, berries and small fruits in late summer and fall. Also, eats some small insects. They feed the hatchlings with regurgitated seeds.
Resident bird with year-round sighting.
It likes to be in wooded areas, although it can be found in scrub areas.