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Length 55-60 cm, mass 0.85-1.5 kg, females larger than males.
Three colour morphs occur, pale, dark, and buff. In flight the shape is diagnostic; the tail is seldom spread, usually appearing long, narrow and square; the wings are also long and narrow. Sitting, a crest should be present, but reportedly, it is surprisingly often not visible.
The shape of the nostrils is different between this species and Tawny Eagle; Tawny Eagle has nostrils on a diagonal that is almost vertical, while Wahlberg's Eagle has nostrils almost horizontal.
Southern breeders are migratory and winter to the north of the breeding range.
Wooded savanna, riverine woodland and lakesides.
It builds a stick nest in the fork of a tree or the crown of a palm tree and 1-2 eggs are laid.
The diet includes reptiles, small mammals and birds.