This handsome eagle is small and compact, with a black hood that contrasts with a white throat, and a rufous belly. The upperparts are dark. The species has a short crest and feathered legs. The juvenile lacks the hood but has dark eye-patches and all-white underparts. A resident of evergreen forests in hills and foothills, where it mostly hunts by striking its prey in the air or very close to the ground in a falcon-like swoop.