Description: This is a medium sized owl that, as the name implies, shows only small ear tufts. These appear more as ridges, that begin above the bill curving up and over the forehead and crest, and show when the owl is in a defensive posture. The Short-eared Owl has a large round off-white facial disk with fine brown tinges and black around the eyes. The under parts are white to buffy with dark brown streaks. The backside is deep brown with white mottling and in birds that are lighter overall may also have a mix of tannish-brown mottling. The irises are lemon yellow and the bill is black. The Short-eared Owl has a distinctively moth-like flight.
Young: The juvenile is brown above with buff tips on the back feathers. The facial disk is brown-black with white mustache and beard. The under parts are a warm buff color.