The red crest is rarely visible except on displaying male, when the elongated, rufous feathers are erected to form a crest resembling that of grey-crowned crane. Both sexes have a black belly.
Male, in courtship display, flies straight up, then suddenly tumbles and plummets towards the ground before gliding off and settling. Female has a mottled brown crown and neck. It is readily distinguished from female Northern Black Korhaan by the chevron-shaped markings (not barring) on the back. Juvenile resembles female.
Dry woodland and semi-desert Kalahari grassland and thornveld.
Male's protracted call is a characteristic sound of the bushveld in summer. It starts with a series of clicks, 'tic-tic-tic', which builds into an extended series of loud, piping whistles, 'pi-pi-pi ... pipity-pipity'.