The typical owls are small to large-sized, mainly nocturnal, birds of prey with long, broad, rounded wings; hooked bills; relatively short, powerful legs; and sharp, curved talons. The only species to occur in Galápagos, the Short-eared Owl, is medium-sized and readily told from the Barn Owl by its mainly dark plumage, dark, circular facial disc and yellow eyes. The sexes are alike and immature plumages resemble adult plumage.
A fairly large, rather long-winged, brown owl with short, often inconspicuous, ear-tufts. Upperparts heavily mottled and streaked dark brown and buff; wings dark brown with buff spots; underparts slightly paler than upperparts with brown streaking, heaviest on the breast; facial disc dusky brown, bordered breast with narrow black and white lines; eyes yellow. In flight, underwings pale with black crescent in carpal area and black wing-rips. Sexes alike, although females appreciably larger than males.
Most active during the early morning and late evening, quartering the ground with slow, deep wingbeats, somewhat reminiscent of a harrier. Tends to feed nocturnally in areas where Galapagos Hawk is present.