Sexes alike; female larger. Dark brown above; some white on head; white below; brown breast ‘necklace’, seen at rest and in flight; in overhead flight, white body with breast band, long, narrow black tipped, barred wings with black carpal (wrist) patches. Young birds have upper body marked white. Solitary or in scattered pairs; mostly around water; perches on a stake or tree top; circles over water; hovers characteristically; dives with feet dangling; often splashes into water; carries fish on to perch.
Lakes, rivers, coastal lagoons.
Resident in parts of the Himalaya, between about 2000 –3500m; winter visitor over India.
Short, nasal scream; calls rarely.