There are two subspecies of this specialist inhabitant of dense vegetation along the fringes of permanent rivers. During the breeding season (September to March) the male is striking, with a bright purple crown, bordered below by black and with a black centre patch. The back and wings are brown, the underparts are pale buff to cream and the tail is blue. The purple crown is replaced with blue-grey in the non-breeding season and the black collar is reduced to a patch blackish on the ear coverts. The female resembles the non-breeding male, but has reddish-brown ear coverts. Food consists mainly of insects, supplemented with some seeds, which are gather on the ground or low down in grasses (especially pandanus) and shrubs.