The only member of its family, the palmchat was first described in 1766. The bird is typically 7.5 to 8 inches (19 to 20 centimeters) long and has a fairly long tail. Its upper parts are olive brown, with a dark yellow-green area across its rump and on the edges of its primary wing feathers. Its under parts are creamy white with heavy brown streaks, while its strong bill is yellow and its eyes are russet. Adult males and females look very similar, but immature birds have darker throats. Although it is distantly related to the North American waxwings, its plumage is not soft and velvety. It is a vocal bird, and may be recognized by its cheerful gurgles and "cheep" calls. It does not have a song, but rather blurts out noises and single notes.