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The African harrier-hawk is a medium-sized raptor. Both sexes are similar with a small head, yellow face and long, slender, yellow legs.
This is the largest grey hawk in the region.
The upper parts, head and breast are pale grey. The belly is white with fine, dark barring. The broad wings are pale grey with a black trailing edge fringed with a narrow white line. The tail is black with a single broad white band.
Juveniles are dark brown.
The bare facial skin patch can flush reddish-pink during social interactions, especially during breeding season.
In flight these birds have very broad wings which are characteristic of the species.
The call is a whistled sueee-sueee-sueee.
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