Medium-sized, rather nondescript raptor with overall dark plumage. Slightly forked tail, the fork disappearing when the tail is fully open. Head and neck are short. The juvenile is paler with a pale panel on upperwings and a dark mask around the eyes. Flight style buoyant, gliding and changing direction with ease. Commonly found in urban areas, rubbish dumps, aquatic habitats, grassland, but usually avoids heavily forested areas. May be found solitarily but also in large flocks on migration and at good feeding areas.