This is a small-to medium sized eagle. The upperparts are dark brown, and the underside is white with dark streaks. The wings are relatively short and rounded. The long tail is grey on top and white below and has a single broad black terminal band. The feet and eyes are yellow. Immature birds have deep buff underparts and underwing coverts, and have fine barring on the tail without the terminal band.
The Bonelli's eagle takes a wide range of live prey, all taken alive. It usually hunts from cover by a quick dash from inside a tree, but it will also catch prey by quartering hill slopes like other eagles, or make a stoop from a soaring position. Most prey is taken on the ground.
This eagle takes large prey items, usually mammals or birds. Mammals up to the size of a hare are regularly taken, and birds up to guineafowl size.