This is a small, variable plumaged, yellow eyed owl with ear-tufts which are not always erect. It can be distinguish from the collared scops its whitish scapular stripe, well marked underparts, and lack of pale collar. There are two colour morphs, grey and rufous; intermediate forms also occur. Sexes are alike. Individuals may freeze with eyes half closed when disturbed. The species has a repeated liquid call sounding like "tuk tok torok"