The Greater Spotted Eagle is a medium-sized eagle. It is 70 cm in length and has a wingspan of 180 cm. Typical body mass of 2.5 kg with an occasional big female weighing up to 3.5 kg. Head and wing coverts are very dark brown and contrast with the generally medium brown plumage. The head is small for an eagle.
There is often a less obvious white patch on the upper-wings, but a light crescent on the primary remiges is a good field mark. The white V mark on the rump is less clear-cut in adults. The juvenile has white spots all over its wings and lacks a lighter nape patch.
In winter, it occurs in the range of the Indian Spotted Eagle. From this recently-validated relative, it can be distinguished by the darker color and lighter eye (not darker than the body plumage at distance, lighter at close range), and in juveniles, the strong spotting. It is also a bit larger – though this cannot be reliably estimated in the field – and in the winter quarters prefers wetland habitat.