Sexes alike; female larger. Blue-grey above; chestnut sides of head, crown, nape, cheekstripe diagnostic; wings pointed, outer flight feathers blackish, closely barred with white on inner webs; black-barred grey tail with narrow black bars has a broad, black terminal band edged with white; white below; lightly streaked breast, barred below. Pairs, usually hunt in concert; straight and strong flight.
Male: black-streaked, ash-grey crown, sides of neck and nape; rufous mantle, black-spotted; cheek-stripe; grey tail has white tip and black subterminal band; streaked and spotted buffy underbody. Female: pale rufous above; streaked head and narrowly barred back; paler buff below, densely streaked. Young: like female; thickly streaked below. Solitary or in pairs; on exposed perches overlooking open country; circles in air and pounces into grass and scrub; often hovers when hunting.
Ashy-grey above; whitish below, close-barred with rust-brown; grey throat-stripe; in flight, the multi-banded tail and roundish wings help identification; golden-yellow eyes and yellow legs and feet seen at close range. The migrant Eurasian Sparrowhawk A. nisus is very similar but a closer look reveals the longer legs, rufous cheek-patch and absence of mesial stripe in nisus. Usually solitary; hides in leafy branches; pounces on unsuspecting prey; occasionally chases small birds; soars over forest.