The Chestnut-crowned Becard is one of the most widespread and frequently encountered of its genus, being found over much of the northern two-thirds of South America east of the Andes. It inhabits all types of lowland forest, especially their borders, and also including plantations with trees and taller second growth. At least in parts of its range, the species will join mixed-species foraging flocks, although this becard is, like most of its congenerics, perhaps most likely to draw the attention by its large ball-like nest, which both sexes attend. Five subspecies are frequently recognized, but geographic variation is limited and generally confined to the level of contrast between the gray head sides and the crown, and the intensity of the underparts coloration. The sexes are, unusually (but not uniquely) among becards, fundamentally identical in plumage.