These birds have grey upperparts and white underparts with a white face with black striping, a grey crest, a black throat, and a short stout bill.
Their preferred habitat are oak or oak-juniper mixed woodland riparian areas of mountains in eastern and southeastern Arizona-(the Mogollon Plateau and White Mountains of Arizona), and extreme southwestern New Mexico-(the Madrean sky islands region of the eastern Sonora Desert) in the United States to southern Mexico. They nest in a hole in a tree, either a natural cavity or sometimes an old woodpecker nest. They line the nest with soft materials.
These birds are permanent residents and may join small mixed flocks in winter.
They forage actively on branches, sometimes on the ground, mainly eating insects, especially caterpillars, but also seeds, nuts and berries. They will store food for later use.
The song is usually described as a whistled pidi-pidi-pidi-pidi. They make a variety of different sounds, most having a similar tone quality.