The bird is 5.5 to 6 inches (14 to 15 cm) long, with rusty flanks, gray upperparts, and a whitish belly. The male has a long, dark black crest that is usually erect, while the female's crest is not as dark. It is common wherever trees grow, whether they are deciduous, heavy timber, or urban shade trees. Its call peter, peter, peter is similar to that of the Tufted Titmouse, but shorter. Its diet consists of berries, nuts, spiders, insects, and insect eggs.
It is native to southern Texas, Oklahoma, and east-central Mexico. Vagrants have been seen as far north and east as St. Louis, Missouri.