Otus Owl

Hi, my name is Otus. I live at the Environmental Studies Center. I am an Eastern Screech Owl. Lots of people ask me how I got my name. Well, my scientific name used to be Otus Asio, now it's Megascopes Asio. Otus sounds better than Megascopes, so that's how I got my name.

 Check out a few of these great books!

Wesley the Owl
by Stacey O'Brien

Best suited to intermediate grades through
adult. This book is about a young college, biology student who adopts a barn owl. It is a light-hearted, loving account of the owls development, behavior and their connection to each other.

Those Outrageous Owls
by Laura Wyatt

Early childhood to adult -- This is an
easy read that explains any question you may have ever had about owls and even answers some questions you may never have thought of.

Birds Build Nests
by Yvonne Winer

Primary grades -- although, it's great for a
quick reference for anyone trying to identify nests and/or eggs. It is a beautifully illustrated book with a rhyming text. They identify 15 different
birds, eggs and nests.

Otus Answers Questions from Students.

Question: Why do you live at the Environmental Studies Center?

Answer: I was found on the ground, under a tree in the late spring of 2007. I don’t remember exactly what happened, and no one else knows for sure. At that time I was a fledgling, which means that I was young and had just gotten the feathers necessary for flight. I had to get surgery on my wing, which was broken. I spent time recovering at the Bird Of Prey Center in Maitland. Even so, my wing wouldn’t completely mend, which is why I am a flightless bird. My family had to obtain special permits since I am a screech owl, and Birds of Prey are protected. They visited me at the Bird of Prey Center nursery until October 2007, when I finally got to move into my new home at the Environmental Studies Center.

Question: Are there any special treats you like to eat?

Answer: Large meal worms and crickets are my favorites. I eat a couple a day when someone offers them to me.

Question: Do you leave the museum to go on the mudwalk and will you help at the air potato raid?

Answer: I love to go for walks (I have to stay on the arm of one guides as I cannot fly). I usually go for a walk every morning before the classes come. The teachers do not take me on the mudwalks because if they fell then I would also be in the mud. Remember how hard it was to keep your balance. My feathers are different from other birds. If I get wet, my feathers won't dry very quickly, which could cause me to get cold and become sick. I do like to "bathe" at a waters edge. I don't submerge my entire body, but instead throw water over myself with my beak and splash in the shallow edges.
I will be in the museum and will see the visitors after the air potato raid is over.

Question: What grades visit you?

Answer: I see mostly 5th graders at the Environmental Studies Center. Occasionally, I see 1st graders but only when there is not a 5th grade class that is scheduled for the dry day or mudwalk. The money to run the Center was reduced due to the State cutting the amount of money given to the school systems. My Friends (the Friends of the Environmental Studies Center) have to raise $20,000 a year just so 5th graders can continue to learn during the two day program(dry day/ mudwalk). Unfortunately, there is not enough money so that all the first graders can visit also.

Question: Why do you blink so much?

Answer: I use my top eyelids for winking and blinking, which is one way that I communicate. Unlike people, I don't use my voice very much. I guess you could say winking and blinking is owl sign language. My bottom eyelids are "sleeping eyelids". I also have a clear lens that closes diagonally. It is called a nictitating membrane. I close the nictitating membrane when I fly or eat to protect my eyes.

Question: Do frogs have a nictitating lens like alligators do?

Answer: Frogs have a third eyelid [a nictitating lens] that they can draw across their eye. they do this to protect them from debris, prey,and the dryness of the air. Many other animals have one to.
(Thank you to Emma who researched and answered her own question.)

Question: Where did the alligator in the museum come from?

Answer: Every year, the teachers at the Environmental Studies Center go to Gatorland to choose a new alligator. Gatorland is very kind to let an alligator live at the Center every school year. The alligator will spend the entire school year with us and is returned to Gatorland in June. In just nine months, the alligator will outgrow its tank.