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17-18cm. Upperparts, crown, long tail and wings are black, with large white patches on the wings, white face is white with a broad black line running back from the eye. The rest of the underparts are white with orange flanks.
In the female and young birds the upperparts are dark grey rather than black, and the orange flanks are less bright and reduced in extent.
Open woodland and cultivated country.
The nest is built in a tree and 4-7 eggs are laid.
Diet includes large insects, small birds, voles and lizards which it impales on thorns or barbed wire as a "larder".
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