Unlike most other larks, this is a distinctive-looking species on the ground, mainly brown-grey above and pale below, with a striking black and yellow face pattern. Except for the central feathers, the tail is mostly black, contrasting with the paler body; this contrast is especially noticeable when the bird is in flight.
The nest is on the ground, with two to five eggs being laid. Food is seeds supplemented with insects in the breeding season. The nest may be near corn or soybeans for a source of food, and the female chooses the site.