The yellow-eared bulbul is about 20 cm (7.9 in) in length, with a long tail. It has olive upperparts and yellowish underparts. The crown of the head is grey, and there are yellow ear tufts and a yellow patch below the eye. There is a white tuft in front of the eye and the throat is also white.
Sexes are similar in plumage, but young birds are duller than adults.