This is a little woodland species, with a small head, stout body, short wings, and a long tail. Females are larger than males. Plumage is brown above, with spotting on the head, neck, and upper parts; the breast, belly and flanks are whitish and streaked dark brown; the brown tail is barred. The face has white and brown bands, with yellow eyes and bill, and a white chin; the throat is brown with white spots. Large, black, false eye spots on the back of the head may help the little owl evade predators, by giving the impression that this bird is bigger than it really is. Plumage is similar between the sexes, although males may be slightly grayer, and females slightly redder in coloring. This owl will sometimes adopt a concealment posture, erecting little feather tufts on the head, compressing the body feathers, and drawing one wing across the front of the body to blend into a wooded background. Flight is mostly short, perch to perch movements, in a low, undulating pattern just above the ground.