This owl lives in the deep forests of the Pacific Northwest, with camouflage feathering to blend with patterns of dim light filtering through tree branches. Like the related Barred Owl, this species has a stocky body, short tail, and broad wings; the sexes are similar, but the female is generally larger. The large head is rounded and lacks ear tufts; a facial disc with a feather pattern of concentric barring surrounds large, dark brown eyes. The head and upper parts are dark brown, irregularly spotted and speckled with white. The under parts are dark brown and buff, with large, white, rounded spots, and barring across the belly. The Northern Spotted Owl can be distinguished from the Barred Owl in its darker color, smaller size, lack of streaking on the belly, darker face, and greenish, horn-colored bill. Fledglings of the Northern Spotted Owl have a narrower pattern of bands on the wings than fledglings of its relative.