Very distinctive black-masked shrike with a red crown and nape. Stocky and big-headed, with prominent white wing patches. Juveniles are pale gray and scaly. Found in open areas with scattered bushes and trees, especially old orchards, where they sit on prominent perches; uses acacia savanna on non-breeding grounds. Song is a long jumble of various vocal elements, including warbles, whistles, rasping calls, and mimicry. Gives long series of harsh, dry calls.