It is 20-23.5 cm long. The plumage is mostly green apart from the head which is patterned with blue, yellow and red. There is a black stripe above the eye. The bill is black and the feet are grey-green. The Chinese name for the bird, "five-colored bird" (五色鳥) refers to the five colors seen on its plumage. Because of its colorful plumage and that its call resembles that of a percussion instrument known as a wooden fish, the species is also referred to as the "spotted monk of the forest" in Taiwan.