The Martin Triste is dark brown, with a head and a neck black colored, and a caudal fin whitely colored. Its beak, the bare skin around the eyes, and its legs and fingers are yellow. The extremities of the rectrices are white, as well as the spot at the base of the primary remiges, and the selvedges on the wings, making them distinct to the human eye when they fly.
The juveniles have a more brownish head, but they are paler, with the head, the throat and upper breast dark of a burnish colour.
The sound made by the Martin Triste is noisy and varied, which gets declined in gurgling gargoyles, attenuated chatter and flowing whistling. When he flies, he throws a weak “kwerrh” which is kind of grumpy. Its danger tone is a discordant and rasping “traaahh.”. Its singing is incoherent and not at all melodious, with a variety of different gurgling and whistling phases repeated very quickly. Sometimes he imitates other birds, but he is not a great at it…