Medium-sized, rather nondescript raptor with overall dark plumage. Varies considerably across range, but always note tail fork (can disappear when tail is fully open), and short head and neck. Juvenile averages paler and more contrastingly-marked. Flight style buoyant, gliding and changing direction with ease. Frequently forages in urban areas, rubbish dumps, aquatic habitats, and grassland, but usually avoids heavily forested areas. Sometimes solitary, but also gathers in large flocks on migration and at good feeding areas.