Its upperparts are grey with a chestnut collar; its underparts are mainly rufous, finely barred with white. Thus it has similar colouring to the Collared Sparrowhawk but is larger. The flight is fast and flexible. The body length is 40–55 cm (15.7–21.7 in); the wingspan, 75–95 cm (29.5–37.4 in). Females are noticeably larger: adult males weigh 220 g (7.8 oz), and adult females, 355 g (12.5 oz).
It eats mainly birds; also small mammals, reptiles, amphibians and occasionally insects.