In size it is a little smaller and slimmer than the European magpie (Pica pica) though the bill is relatively thicker. The overall colouring of the bird is black with the feathers quite silky in texture and having a purplish gloss in good light. The base of the tail tends to be more brown in colour than the rest of the body. The nasal plumes are somewhat upturned on top of the bill but fully cover the nostrils. The bill itself is black in the adult but partly reddish-pink towards the base in juvenile specimens. The bird's legs and feet are black and the iris is variable, but tends towards violet, purple or mauve with a bluish-purple outer ring. The voice is usually described as a shrill squeaking often with the jackdaw-like overtones. There is also a croaking alarm call given in anger where the head bobs.