A pale-headed raptor of inland marshes and lakes. Tends to be uncommon and thinly distributed throughout its range. Adult is dark brown above with a paler belly and dirty-gray head. When in flight from below, a broad white band on the dark tail is the most eye-catching feature. Juveniles have an all-dark tail, but have two bright white panels on the undersides of the wingtips; this patterning can be similar to that of some kites, but the fish-eagle is much larger, with a longer-winged and comparatively shorter-tailed profile.