Small owl with a distinctive, highly angular head. Dark chestnut above and pale creamy gray below with light spotting on the sides. Dark eyes are emphasized by the general paleness of the face and the vertical dark ridges above them which form into small rounded tufts. Typically stands quite upright, giving it a heavy-headed appearance. Small and often difficult to find but can be common in a wide range of habitats, including evergreen forests and mangroves. Vocalizations are variable, and include rasps, screams, inflected gulping hoots, and a high-pitched mellow whistled song with the first few notes downslurred and the last few notes upslurred, which can be likened to “hii-huu-huu-huwee-huwee-huwee”.