Light brown or rufous are colors frequently seen in the plumage of wood-quails (Odontophorus), but the Black-breasted Wood-Quail is dominated by darker tones. The upperparts are dark brown, while the sides of the face and the breast and belly are black; the throat is white, although this patch of contrasting color is variable in size and sometimes is inconspicuous. Like most species of wood-quail, this species is heard more often than it is seen. This species forages on the ground in coveys of up to 10-15 individuals in the interior of humid montane forest. The Black-breasted Wood-Quail is restricted to the highlands of Costa Rica and of western Panama, but it is fairly common, and despite its small geographic range its IUCN Red List conservation status is rated as Least Concern.