This eagle is a fairly large species, though mid-sized as a member of the Aquila genus. It is mainly dark brown to black, with paler undersides to its flight feathers and a rounded tail. Its body length is 74–86 cm (29–34 in) with a wingspan of between 1.65 and 1.9 m (5.4 and 6.2 ft). One immature bird reportedly weighed 3.06 kg (6.7 lb). Females are larger than males. Its wings are held level when gliding. It feeds on mammals such as cuscuses, reptiles, and birds.
Gurney's eagle is found from extreme southeastern Iran and islands off Japan south to most of New Guinea. It has been recorded from Saibai and Boigu islands in north-western Torres Strait, thus putting it on the Australian bird list. it inhabits a wide range of habitats from sea level to the snow line.