Found in the arid grasslands and shrub steppe country of the interior parts of North America. It is migratory in the northern parts of its range but can be found year round in the mid and southwest United States.
Adults have long broad wings and a broad grey, rusty or white tail. The legs are feathered to the talons. There are two colour forms:
- Light morph birds are rusty brown on the upper parts and pale on the head, neck and underparts with rust on the legs and some rust marking on the underwing. The upper wings are grey.
- Dark morph birds are dark brown on both upperparts and underparts with light areas on the upper and lower wings.