A large, noisy shrike typical of open habitats across Asia. Adults have a dark mask and a light gray upper back with a variable amount of orange on lower back and flanks. Eastern subspecies has complete black cap; melanistic form has more extensive dark mask and is darker overall. Smaller Bay-backed Shrike has thicker black mask; Gray-backed Shrike has darker gray back and lacks orange coloration and white in wings. Juveniles difficult to separate from other juvenile shrikes. Gives loud, screeching calls; also mimics other birds.