This medium-sized, gray songbird is the larger and paler of the two species of shrike in North America. The Northern Shrike has a light gray underside, and a darker gray back. Its wings are black with white patches, and its tail is black with white corners. It has a large bill that is hooked at the end, and a narrow, black mask across its face. The female is slightly browner with a less distinctive mask than that of the male. Young birds are almost totally brown. Their wings are dark, but when they are folded up on the perched bird, they can be difficult to see and use as a fieldmark. The juvenile also has a less obvious mask, a paler bill, and barred underparts. Northern Shrikes, in comparison with Loggerhead Shrikes, have larger bills and narrower masks.