A large, long-winged, long-tailed hawk; females are larger than males. The Latin name means “rabbit-footed,” as the legs are feathered completely down to the small yellow feet. The pattern and amount of dark is extremely variable in this species. In the common light morph (light-colored variety), this hawk is more boldly patterned compared to other buteos, with brown back and wings, but head, neck, underside and thighs white or buffy with streaks or spots of brown; females and immatures have a dark belly band, while the adult male has a darker “bib” across the breast, and paler belly. The tail is pale with dark bars, dark at the end. When viewed in flight, square black patches at the wrist, or bend, of the wing underside are a distinctive feature. Flight is active with slow, flexible wingbeats; soars in a medium dihedral (v-shaped attitude of wings), and hovers frequently.