These are small, fairly drab species superficially similar, but unrelated to, sparrows
; they are generally regarded as being related to the thrushes
or the warblers
. They are 14 to 18 centimetres in length, and weigh between 25 and 35 grams. However, accentors have thin sharp bills, reflecting their diet of ground-dwelling insects in summer, augmented with seeds and berries in winter. They may also swallow grit and sand to help their stomach break up these seeds.