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This is a large eagle although it is one of the smaller species in the Aquila genus. It is 60–75 cm (24–30 in) in length and has a wingspan of 159–190 cm (63–75 in). Weight can range from 1.6 to 3 kg (3.5 to 6.6 lb). It has tawny upper parts and blackish flight feathers and tail. The lower back is very pale. This species is smaller and paler than the Steppe Eagle, although it does not share that species' pale throat. Immature birds are less contrasted than adults, but both show a range of variation in plumage color.
Throughout its range it favors open dry habitats, such as desert, semi-desert, steppes, or savannah, plains.