This species is 6.3 inches (16 cm) long and weighs 20 g. The bill is pointed and black with some blue-gray at the base of the lower mandible. The adult male of the nominate subspecies has chestnut on the underparts, shoulder, and rump, with the rest of the plumage black. In the subspecies I. s. fuertesi, the chestnut is replaced with ochre. All adults have pointed bills and white wing bars. One-year-old males are yellow-greenish with a black bib.

Habitat and Distribution

The breeding habitat is semi-open areas with deciduous trees. I. s. spurius species breeds in spring across eastern North America from near the United States-Canada border south to central Mexico. These birds enjoy living in shaded trees within parks along lakes and streams. The nominate subspecies' winter range extends from the coastal lowlands of central Sinaloa and southern Veracruz south to northern Colombia and northwestern Venezuela.The ochre subspecies winters on the Pacific slope of Mexico. These birds are nocturnal migrants.


Generally their diet includes ripe fruit, which quickly passes through their digestive tract. However in breeding season, they eat insects and spiders. During winter, their diet consists of fruit, nectar, insects and seeds.


The nest is a tightly woven pouch attached to a fork on a horizontal branch. Their nests tend to sit close together.