The upperparts are grey with a chestnut collar; the underparts are mainly rufous, finely barred with white. It is similar in colouring to the Brown Goshawk but smaller, and shares its fast, flexible flight. The body length is 30–40 cm (11.8–15.7 in) and the wingspan is 55–80 cm (21.7–31.5 in). Females, which weigh 240 g (8.5 oz) as adults, are noticeably larger than males, which weigh 125 g (4.4 oz).
It feeds mainly on small birds caught in flight such as House Sparrows and Common Starlings, occasionally insects.