Owls look terrifying without feathers and we're screaming

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Consider yourself warned: The following images are not for the faint of heart. Owls are some of the most mystical, intriguing, adorable creatures to walk (or fly, rather) the face of the earth. Why do you think we were so torn up when Hedwig died in Harry Potter? Did you really have to kill her off, though, J.K.? Did you?!

In ancient Greece, an owl is known as a symbol of higher wisdom, and it’s associated with the goddess Athena. Ancient Welsh culture believes owls are a sign of fertility. Some people believe that if you encounter an owl out in nature it’s a good omen for what’s to come. But you may have to toss all these beliefs out the window, because author Dana Schwartz turned everything we believe upside down when she tweeted pictures of owls without feathers and Buzzfeed brought this surprise to our attention. Brace yourselves, people.

She’s been retweeted over 18,000 times already, because Twitter folk just can’t get this image out of their heads, and we just can’t blame them. We’re scarred for life, and we have you to thank, Dana. If you’re thinking this is all a cruel joke, BuzzFeed News came to prove you wrong.

Jeffrey Meshach, the deputy director of World Bird Sanctuary, confirmed to BuzzFeed News that, yes, that picture “is what a barn owl would look like with almost no feathers.” Anyone else feel like their childhood has been tainted yet? *screams into pillow*

The second picture Dana shared is, according to Meshach, “actually a great photo showing how much feathers change the appearance of a bird.” We think “great” is misused here, but whatever.

Try not to come undone over the news. And maybe don’t share these photos freely with your friends unless you know for sure they’re ready for it. It’s a heartbreaker. And while we’re at it, RIP Hedwig.

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