The Saffron-crowned Tanager is very confusing, since its plumage coloration can change a lot depending on the prevailing light. One thing that not changes and that really identifies this species is the yellow head with black mask. The body is either turquoise with green patches, or light green with turquoise patches. Whichever the color seen, it has a spotted appearance on the back and black wing feathers with turquoise/green linings. The belly and vent are white. In terms of body shape, it is very similar to the Gold Tanager, but with a very different coloration; this made them unmistakable even though they often shared the same feeder at Finca Alejandría.