The red-backed shrike is about 17 centimetres long. The male has a light, ash-grey crown and rump, a black eye stripe, reddish-brown upper parts, a white and black tail, white belly and pinkish breast. The female is yellow-white below with rough markings. It has a brownish-grey crown and nape, duller brown upper feathers, a brown eye stripe and a dark brown tail with narrow white edges.
The shrike can be found throughout Europe, except the far north, living in open landscapes such as heaths and pastures. A migratory bird, it spends winters in tropical Africa.
The red-backed shrike feeds on insects, small birds, rodents and lizards. It is sometimes called the “butcher bird” because of its habit of hanging prey on thorny bushes or barbed wire to store.