Photo: Beautiful barn owl soars over a field

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Our photo of the day comes from the Essex countryside.

With that heart-shaped face and lovely markings, as shown in this photo by David Selvage, barn owls seem like nothing but sweetness in appearance; yet they've earned a variety of macabre monikers ranging from demon owl to death owl. It's partly due to their ghostly appearance and habit of roosting in places like church belfries; but also likely for their call. Rather than the charming hoot of other owls, this guy gives a wailing shriek Because of its scary reputation these beauties were long harassed by farmers ... but as it turns out, in terms of rodent control, barn owls are a farmer's best friend.

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