Smaller then butcherbird, large-headed and stout, with large hook-tipped bill, shallowly forked tail and striking red, white and red plumage. Plumage is mostly glossy bluish-black, flight-feathers and tail with brown tinge; conspicuous white patch on side of head from behind eye to side of neck, few white feathers in mantle forming smudgy white patch; rump and uppertail-coverts red, and thighs, lower abdomen and undertail-coverts red; underwing white; iris red to dark red-brown, bill and legs black. Distinguished from very similar P.montanus by usually less extensive white on side of head, not reaching above eye level, and less white on back (also differs in some vocalization). Sexes similar in plumage, male slightly larger then female. Juvenile is similar to adult but duller, with greyish-black plumage, and some white on throat and white tips on upperwing-coverts.