The Red-backed Shrike Bird (male) has a pale grey crown and nape, and a black mask that meets over a black bill. The mantle and wing coverts are chestnut-red, the rump is pale grey and contrasts with the black tail, which has large white blocks on the basal half of the outer tail feathers, reminiscent of the tail pattern of the Wheatear. The throat is white, while the underparts of Red-backed Shrike Bird are whitish and flushed pink. The female is browner, with a grey-brown head and a brown mask behind the eye, darker upperparts and whitish-buff underparts with fine vermiculations. Juveniles are similar to the female and have fresh pale edges to the wing feathers, a darker brown crown, and clearer vermiculations and dark scallops on the underparts.
Red-backed Shrike Bird is formerly a widespread and common breeding bird in Britain, but now scarce, breeding only occasionally and with as few as 220 migrants recorded nationwide in any one year. It is widespread across Europe as a summer visitor, favouring warm and sunny open country with scattered trees, woodland edges, clearings, heaths, pastures, hedges and bushy thickets, particularly thorny scrub.
The Red-backed Shrike Bird (male) sings a subdued, sub-song-like, scratchy twittering warble, often including much mimicry of small-bird calls. It can sustain this song for 10 minutes at a time, and uses it to advertise to the female. It will give a more excited version of the song when the female arrives on territory, but both these song variants are given only for a short period and are actually rarely heard. It has a range of call notes, such as a nasal chirp "kscha" or "kvaer", used by the male as a territorial call. The commonest alarm call is a hard "chack" or "tsheck", often repeated rapidly and accompanied by vigorous tail movements. It also gives a bleating, repeated "ivv ik".