Sexes alike. A slendernecked, lanky bird. Slaty-purple above; black crown with long, drooping crest; rufous neck with prominent black stripe along its length; white chin and throat; deep slaty and chestnut below breast; almost black on wings and tail; crest and breast plumes less developed in female. Solitary; crepuscular; extremely shy but master of patience; freezes and hides amidst marsh reeds; when flushed, flies with neck outstretched. Active in early mornings.