Short-eared Owls are medium-sized owls with mottled brown and buff plumage. Their facial disks are light, with dark patches at the eyes. They have short ear-tufts that are usually held down, out of view. They are light underneath, with finely streaked chests and bellies. Males are paler than females. Short-eared Owls have dark markings at the wrist on both the underside and upper side of the wings. In flight they can be hard to tell from the closely related Long-eared Owls, except by behavior and habitat.