The owl guardian of the forest
RURU – Ninox novaeseelandiae novaeseelandiae
Morepork, New Zealand owl
Dark brown with lighter markings and a flat, fawn coloured face offsetting large, yellow eyes, the nocturnal ruru is New Zealand’s most common owl, happily surviving the dramatic changes to the environment that have followed human settlement.
Known to many as a kaitiaki, or protectors of the forest, ruru were once common throughout New Zealand, and while the continue to be herd throughout the kauri forest at night, they are less common than they once were. It is said that a section of forest with a resident ruru is in good health.
Ruru, as a silent flier by night, is also reputed to have many magical properties, and is considered by most to be a bird of omen. Some say it signifies death, others that it is a sign that a war party is on its way to attack, while others claim a ruru calling alone at night is warning of an impending storm.
Monogamous, they form stable relationships with a single mate and occupy a territory covering 2 to 4 hectares. They can change this area frequently, but have been know to remain in one place for years. They roost in covered spaces, although not always fully enclosed so long as there is a roof of sorts.
One or two eggs are usually laid in October, and incubation takes a month, during which time the sitting female is fed by the male.
Ruru feed mostly on insects, but they also hunt and kill small birds, mice and rats