The wandering tattler, is a medium-sized wading bird. It is similar in appearance to the closely related gray-tailed tattler, T. brevipes. The tattlers are unique among the species of Tringa for having unpatterned, greyish wings and backs, and a scaly breast pattern extending more or less onto the belly in breeding plumage, in which both also have a rather prominent supercilium.
These birds have stocky bodies with gray upperparts, underwings, face and neck and a white belly. They have short dark yellow legs and a dark gray bill. Adults in breeding plumage are heavily barred underneath.
The call is a rapid trill of accelerating, staccato notes. They can consist of 3 or 4 beats, per call.