It is slightly smaller than the European Magpie (Pica pica) and has somewhat shorter, more rounded wings and a proportionately longer tail. The bill is shorter and thicker too, and slightly downcurved, and the legs are shorter. The head, neck and breast are a deep slate-grey colour, sometimes slightly brownish.
The underparts and lower back are a warm tawny-brown to orange-brown in colour with white wing coverts and black primaries. The tail is a light bluish-grey with a thick black band on the tip. The bill, legs and feet are black.
The range of this species is quite large, covering all of India up to the Himalayas, and southeasterly in a broad band into Burma (Myanmar), Laos, and Thailand in open forest consisting of scrub, plantations and gardens.
This is a typically arboreal species feeding almost completely in trees on fruits, invertebrates, small reptiles and the eggs and young of birds; it has also been known to take flesh from recently killed carcasses. It is extremely agile while searching for food, clinging and clambering through the branches and will sometimes travel in small mixed hunting parties with unrelated species such as drongos and babblers.
The nest is built in trees and bushes and is usually quite shallow. There are usually 3-5 eggs laid.
This species has a variety of calls, but a bob-o-link call is the commonest along with a variety of harsh calls.