Sexes alike. Dullbrown above, with white rump; very dark, almost black wings; pointed tail; pale buffy-white below, with some brown on flanks; thick, grey-blue or slaty beak striking. Gregarious; mostly keeps to scrub in open country; feeds on ground and on standing crops, especially millet; overall a rather ‘dull’ bird, both in colour and demeanour.
Mainly yellow, black, brown and whitish weaver, distinguished from other weavers by pale blue-grey bill; breeding male has bright yellow crown and broad black breast band; ear coverts, throat may be whitish or brownish, irrespective of region; whitish or pale underparts, with weak streaking on flanks; streaked brown upperparts; non-breeding male has black cap, yellow supercilium, throat, under-eye crescent; black eye- and malar stripes; sometimes broken breast band; female, juvenile somewhat similar; gregarious even when breeding; colonial nester.
Breeding male: bright yellow crown; dark brown above, streaked yellow; dark brown ear-coverts and throat; yellow breast. Female: buffy-yellow above, streaked darker; pale supercilium and throat, turning buffy-yellow on breast, streaked on sides. Nonbreeding male: bolder streaking than female; male of eastern race burmanicus has yellow restricted to crown. Gregarious; one of the most familiar and common birds of India, best known for its nest; keeps to cultivated areas, interspersed with trees; feeds on ground and in standing crops.