- Length: 6.25 inches
- Short, thin bill
- Dark crest
- Males have entirely black plumage, females gray
- White wing patches visible in flight
- Long tail
- Juveniles are similar to females
The Phainopepla is unlikely to be confused with any other species.
Length and wingspan from: Robbins, C.S., Bruun, B., Zim, H.S., (1966). Birds of North America. New York: Western Publishing Company, Inc.