The plumage varies from pale brown to almost black. It is generally darker below than Forest Buzzard, and occurs mostly in different habitats. Unlike in Forest Buzzard, the flanks are usually conspicuously barred. It is frequently seen perched on roadside telephone poles.
Juvenile resembles adult but has yellow (not brown) eyes, streaked underparts and a narrower terminal tail bar.
Open country, avoiding desert and well-wooded regions.
A gull-like 'pee-ooo'.