The Marsh-harrier is a large raptor from temperate and subtropical western Eurasia and adjacent Africa. The Marsh harrier is 55 cm in length, and has a wingspan of 130 cm; and a weight of 650 gm. It is a large, bulky harrier with fairly broad wings. The male's plumage is mostly a cryptic reddish-brown with lighter yellowish streaks, which are particularly prominent on the breast. The head and shoulders are mostly pale grayish-yellowish. The rectrices and the secondary and tertiary remiges are pure grey, the latter contrasting with the brown fore-wing and the black primary remiges at the wingtips. The upper-side and underside of the wing look similar, though the brown is lighter on the under-wing. Whether from the side or below, flying males appear characteristically three-colored brown-grey-black. The legs, feet, irides and the cere of the black bill are yellow.
The female is almost entirely chocolate-brown. The top of the head, the throat and the shoulders have of a conspicuously lighter yellowish color; this can be clearly delimited and very contrasting, or (particularly in worn plumage) be more washed-out, resembling the male's head colors. But the eye area of the female is always darker, making the light eye stand out, while the male's head is altogether not very contrastingly colored and the female lacks the grey wing-patch and tail. Juveniles are similar to females, but usually have less yellow, particularly on the shoulders.