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.
The Saffron Finch is pretty conspicuous, since it has a bright yellow coloration and forages on the ground in groups of three or more, making them easy to spot against the green grass. The adult has an orange patch on the front of the head. The juvenile is streaked on the back and wings, and have a lighter yellow coloration on the belly. They are often kept caged by people, and when free they frequent suburban areas and are very tolerant of human presence.