The Mindanao hawk-owl is an earless species. The males and females look much alike. It is one of the smallest in the Philippine hawk-owl complex.
The Mindanao hawk-owl can be found in forest areas up to an altitude of 1800 metres, although they mostly reside in areas below 1000 metres above sea level. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and subtropical or tropical moist montane forests. This species mates around February. The nests can be found in hollow trees.