A large hawk, brown above and white below, with a brown-streaked band on the belly. Adults have a rust-red tail with a narrow black band near the end. In flight the front edges of the wings are dark, contrasting with the lighter wing linings. In winter, several other color morphs of this species can also be seen in Missouri, ranging from almost entirely dark brown to very pale. Albino birds are also occasionally seen. Immatures are similar to adults except that the tail is brown with narrow dark bars.