Sarasota News Leader

09/21/12

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ASK OTUS A BIT OF A MYSTERY To the Editor: What a delightful looking owl!Lovely and entertaining to finally see something dif- ferent from lizards! We had a little owl in our yard in Siesta Village, but we didn't see it this past season. Do owls move far from where they were born? That may be a mystery, though. Lisel Dear Lisel, And what a delightful sounding name you have! Thank you for finding me more pleas- ing to the eyes than some of our key's scaly reptilian inhabitants. The word "mystery" in your letter caused me delightful frissons. I love a good mystery and am off today to solve one of the greatest in the animal world. But, first, back to your kind note and questions ... Lisel, I believe this is your backyard owl. Otus Offal (pronounced "awful") is a gray morph Screech-owl and my cousin many, many times removed. At times, I wish he were even further removed. You see, he was nicknamed Offal because even when a ludicrously cute owlet, he had the most disgustingly opportunistic eating habits; he would gobble anything, including poisonous caterpillars, and then engage in retroperi- stalsis right at the dinner table! It made me Otus Offal, File Photo ABOUT OTUS Otus Rufous, an Eastern Screech-Owl, was born on Sies- ta Key and is a full-time resident there. An avid hunter, accomplished vocalist and genuine night owl, Otus is a keen observer of our local wildlife and knows many of nature's secrets. Otus will answer your questions about our amazing wildlife, but only if you Ask Otus. So please send your questions and photos to askotus@sarasotanews- leader.com. Thank you.

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