Easily confused with migrant Steppe Eagle, which is similar in size and shape. At close range, the gape length is diagnostic; in Tawny Eagle it extends only to below the middle of the eye. The unbarred to faintly barred tail is diagnostic. The plumage is variable: most birds are uniformely tawny, but they range from streaked dark brown to pale buff in colour.
Adult has a pale yellow eye. Female is usually darker than male. Juvenile is rufous brown, fading to buff as sub-adult.
Thornveld and semi-desert areas.
Seldom calls, a sharp bark 'kyow'.