The unmistakable Magpie, or Long-tailed, Shrike inhabits open savanna habitats, typically where thorn trees dominate, and feed on invertebrates, lizards, small mammals, carrion and occasionally fruit. They generally avoid man-altered habitats and human habitation.
Adult Magpie Shrikes measure up to 50cm long and weigh around 85g.
Magpie Shrikes are gregarious and territorial, with groups numbering 3-12 occupying home ranges of up to 70 hectares in size (though much smaller while nesting). Their nesting season spans spring and summer. The dominant pair is monogamous and usually assisted by other group members in raising the chicks.
In South Africa, Magpie Shrikes are found mainly in Limpopo and Mpumalanga, extending marginally into Gauteng, Free State, Northwest, Northern Cape and Kwazulu-Natal. They also occur patchily through the rest of southern and eastern Africa. The IUCN indicates that the overall population of the Magpie Shrike is decreasing, possibly due to habitat loss, but still lists it as being of least concern at the moment.