Chunky dark brown raptor with a white belly marked by thin bars. Immatures are brown when perched, and show rufous patches in the underwing in flight. Found in savanna habitats. Soars frequently and sometimes hovers. Very similar to Short-toed Snake-Eagle, but has darker upperparts and narrower dark bars on the belly; the front of the underwings looks white and unbarred in flight. Immature similar to immature Black-breasted and Short-toed Snake-Eagles, but identified by the rufous patches on the underwings.