The Ural owl is a fairly large nocturnal bird of prey. Both its common name and scientific name refer to the Ural Mountains of Russia, where this bird was collected. The Ural owl has a broad, rounded head with a correspondingly round facial disc, barring a tiny V-shaped indentation. The bird has an exceptionally long tail that bears a wedge-shaped tip. In color, this owl tends to be a plain pale greyish-brown to whitish overall, with a slightly darker grey-brown to brown back and mantle with contrasting whitish markings. The underparts are pale cream-ochre to grey-brown and are boldly overlaid with dark brown streaking, without crossbars. In flight, the Ural owl shows a largely buffish-white underwing marked with heavy dark bars around the trailing edge and tip, while the long white-tipped tail often appears slung downwards.
The Ural owl is a member of the 'Strix' genus, which are quite often referred to as wood owls.
In other languages, the Ural owl is referred to as Slaguggla or “attacking owl” in Swedish, Habichtskauz or “goshawk-owl” in German and as the “long-tailed owl” in Russian.
The ears of the Ural owl are quite large. In fact, their ears are amongst the largest recorded in owls. In combination with their large ears, the well-developed facial disc shows how important the sound is to this and other owls who hunt in boreal zones.