The Purplish-backed Quail-Dove is a rather small, dark forest dove of the humid hills and slopes of Costa Rica and Panama. It is dark brown above with a purplish tinge to the mantle, with gray on the breast and neck and light brown on the flanks. Like many species of quail-dove, it has a white face with a contrasting black submoustachial stripe and loral line. This species is generally detected by its low, repeated cooing call, but the calling male can be difficult to spot as he sits motionless in dense vegetation in the lower or middle strata of dense forest. Purplish-backed Quail-Doves feed on fruit, seeds, insects, and worms on the ground, and rarely can be observed as they walk along shaded forest paths. The nest is a loose construction of sticks placed in dense undergrowth.