The African Fish Eagle is a large bird, and the female is larger than the males. Males usually have a wingspan of about 2 m (6 feet), while females have wingspans of more than 2.4 m (8 feet). They are very distinctive in appearance with a mostly brown body and large, powerful, black wings. The head, breast, and tail of African Fish Eagles are snow white and the hook-shaped beak is mostly yellow with a black tip.
The African Fish Eagle feeds mainly on fish, which, upon spying it from a perch in a tree, it will swoop down upon and snatch from the water with its large clawed talons and fly back to its perch to eat. Should the African Fish Eagles catch a fish over 1.8 kg (4 pounds) it will be too heavy to allow it to get lift, so it will instead drag the fish across the surface of the water until it reaches the shore. If it catches a fish that is too heavy to even allow the eagle to sustain flight, it will drop into the water and paddle to the nearest shore with its wings. It will also feed on waterfowl, small turtles, baby crocodiles, and carrion.