Found in tropical or sub-tropical environments across the Americas, from coastal Texas and the Rio Grande Valley to central Argentina. They are also found on many Caribbean islands, although mostly the southern ones.
They average 21–23 in (53–58 cm) in length, including the short tail, and have a wing span of around 4 ft (1.2 m).
The plumage is grey above and whitish below and on the rump, with some faint pale grey or rufous barring. They have rusty-red shoulder patches and a narrow black band near the end of the tail. The wings are dark above and whitish below. The beak is black with a horn-colored base. The feet are yellow with black talons.