The back and scapulars are mottled with brown, blackish-brown, grey, and rufous and sport bold buffy stripes; the rump is buffy-brown with some blackish-brown, rufous, and grey mottling, but appears plainer and browner than the heavily patterned back and scapulars. The upperwing coverts are mottled with buff and dark brown and the flight feathers are grey-brown with narrow buffy or rufous-buff feather edges; the edges of the tertials are pale buffy-white to whitish. The relatively short, slender, rounded tail is brown to buffy-brown; the tips of the narrow tail feathers are pointed, giving the tail a spiky appearance. The belly and undertail coverts are whitish and the breast, sides, and flanks are rich buff to yellowish-buff; the sides of the breast, sides, and flanks are heavily streaked with narrow blackish-brown streaks, sometimes with a few faint, narrow, brown streaks extending across the breast. The broad face is primarily rich buff or orangey-buff, with blackish-brown stripes down each side of the forehead and crown (isolating a whitish-buff central crown stripe), a narrow blackish-brown post-ocular stripe along the top edge of the buffy-grey ear coverts, buffy-grey lores, and a greyish nape with extensive purplish or chestnut streaking; there is a narrow buffy eye-ring that is slightly paler than the remainder of the face. The iris is dark, the short, conical bill is blue-grey to pinkish-grey with a dusky culmen, and the legs and feet are pink.
This plumage is held until late fall (September-November) of the first year. It is very similar to the adult plumage, but is overall buffier and less contrastingly marked and has more distinct blackish-brown streaks across the breast and heavier streaks on the sides and flanks.
Total Length: 13-13.5 cm
Mass: 12.5-15 g
Source: Sibley (2001); Lowther (2005)