A small, mostly black-and-white bushshrike with a pale wing stripe and a checkered back. In most races a strong chestnut stripe runs from the shoulders to the flanks, but in some races it is absent. Females are less boldly marked than males. Pairs frequently join mixed-species flocks in arid savanna and broadleaf woodland, where they acrobatically glean for invertebrates. The species’ distinctive main call is remarkably telephone-like, a ringing burry “preeeeee” with some associated clicks and whistles.