The Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner is the most common and familiar Automolus foliage-gleaner in Central America and the Amazon basin. It is dull brown above and buffy below, with a rufous tail. The bold pale eye ring and postocular stripe are the most distinctive plumage features of this species. The throat varies regionally from buffy to white. Like most Automolus foliage-gleaners, and unlike the Philydor foliage-gleaners, Buff-throated is a bird of forest understory and second growth. Its presence is usually revealed by its distinctive song - a falling series of whistles ending in a descending jumble in South America, or a faster rattle in Mexico and Central America.