Handsome small shrike. Male distinctive, with blue-gray head, black mask, rusty-brown back; female has warm brown upperparts, fine dark scalloping on breast and flanks. Found in open areas with scattered bushes and trees, such as heathland, overgrown orchards, and open farmland with hedges and scattered bushes; especially favors areas with thorny plants on which prey (small birds, large insects, rodents) can be impaled in "larders." Hunts from perches atop bushes and on wires, but at other times is retiring and easily overlooked. Listen for harsh, rough-sounding calls. Song is a rather quiet warble, often with mimicked elements.