Crimson-breasted Shrike is extremely nimble and restless, its penetrating whistles often being the first sign of its presence, although it is not a shy species. The sexes have the same colouration and are indistinguishable from each other. A yellow-breasted form is occasionally seen, and was at first thought to be a separate species. Young birds have a mottled and barred buff-brown appearance with a pale bill.
The Crimson-breasted Shrike’s preferred habitat is drier thornbush areas, in thickets and riparian scrub. It makes small seasonal migrations, preferring lower altitudes during cold periods.