Black-cowled Saltator is a large, distinctive tanager of the western Andes. This species has a restricted distribution on the west slope of the Andes of southwestern Ecuador and northwestern Peru, where it occupies humid forest and adjacent tall second growth between 1000 and 2000 meters in elevation. Black-cowled Saltator is mostly gray, with a black hood, buffy underparts, a stout red bill, and white tips to the outer tail feathers. Black-cowled Saltator is similar in appearance to Golden-billed Saltator (Saltator aurantiirostris), but Golden-billed has a yellower bill, a white throat and supercilium, and more intensely saturated underparts. Very little is known about the natural history of Black-cowled Saltator.