The Pearly Antshrike resembles many of the Thamnophilus antshrikes in plumage, but is stockier and shorter tailed and gives distinctive vocalizations. Both sexes have white eyes, white throats, and bold white spotting on the wing coverts, uppertail coverts, tertials, and rectrices. The male is otherwise mostly pale gray, while the female is buffy-brown. The song is a two-parted series - first 3-4 high whistles, followed quickly by 5-7 low grating "churrs". It forages for arthropods, generally by sallying from a perch to catch flying prey or prey on the underside of a leaf.