Bill rather large, compressed, slightly curved towards the base, but sharply bent over near the tip; festoon distinct; nostril a broad rounded oval, the longer axis oblique. Wings very long, extending beyond the end of the tail, 4th primary longest; tail of moderate length, slightly rounded at the end. Tarsi short, feathered above, the naked portion with broad transverse scutes in front, and hexagonal scales behind and at the sides; toes covered with transverse scutes above, rough and pointed scales beneath, lateral toes unequal; claws well developed and curved.
The well-known Brahminy Kite is the sole Indian representative and the type of this genus, which inhabits the Oriental and Australian regions. Haliastur has been classed alternately with the Sea-Eagles and with the Kites, and is allied to both.