It is pale and is mostly found in arid areas. It has a cheek patch completely bounded by a white supercilium and post-auricular border. The crown and upperparts are heavily streaked. The pale underparts have large spots on the breast. Most of its wing coverts, tertials and central tail feathers have pale centres. The primary coverts look all brown.
The rufous wing bars are diagnostic but care must be taken not to confuse the bird with M. affinis in the central Western Ghats and country around where their ranges overlap. Mirafra affinis is darker with more rufous on the wings.