The sole member of the genus Phainoptila is almost endemic to Costa Rica, although the Black-and-yellow Silky-flycatcher also ranges into western Panama. Males are largely black above, on the tail, and over the head and throat, with yellow underparts, whereas females are rather less strikingly patterned, being principally dark green above and over the head and breast. This species inhabits evergreen montane forests, at elevations between 1000 and 3400 m, and is primarily frugivorous. Three subspecies are recognized, and these differ principally in size and in female plumage. Some authorities have speculated as to whether the Black-and-yellow Silky-flycatcher truly belongs in the Ptilogonatidae, rather than the Turdidae.