Ruru – get involved with a local monitoring survey –

Paula's Ruru

The Ruru,or Morepork is New Zealand’s sole native owl and one of our three native birds of prey. In te ao Māori, the ruru is said to hold significant spiritual power, a guardian with the ability to protect, warn and advise. The name “Morepork” originates from the distinctive sound it makes, resembling the English phrase “more-pork.” In Māori, it is aptly named Ruru, and in Norfolk Island, it goes by the name Boobook.

The ruru’s melancholic call echoes through the night and is an iconic sound in the country’s nocturnal symphony. Although most people will recognise the familiar territorial call of ruru they have up to 10 different calls in their vocabulary. One of these, a piercing screech is often mistaken for kiwi. Click below to hear a range of ruru calls.

Common Call (recorded by Andrew McCafferty):

Croak Call and Screeee Call (recorded by Chris Harrison):

At The Forest Bridge Trust, we are keen to learn how well ruru are faring in our area. From 6 to 14 April, we are conducting a listening survey, and we need your help. Anyone can participate; you don’t need to be an ornithological expert. We simply need you to choose one night and step outside for 5 minutes at dusk and record how many ruru you can hear calling. By scanning the QR code, which can be found at the bottom of this page, you will be able to record your findings, providing us with a snapshot of the abundance and distribution of ruru in our area.

Ruru have proven to be survivors, seamlessly adapting to both urban and rural environments, flourishing in areas with established trees. Although often heard, we don’t always see them. They have dark brown feathers, speckled with cream or light brown, a solid frame, and stout yellow feet. Large, bright yellow-to-greenish eyes provide exceptional night vision.

Ruru are stealthy fliers, equipped with serrated wing feathers that allow them to fly almost silently, a crucial advantage in hunting prey. With acute hearing and forward-facing eyes for binocular vision, they are formidable nocturnal predators. Their diet consists largely of invertebrates like moths, wētā and spiders but they will sometimes hunt mice or small birds, making them a vital part of New Zealand’s ecological balance.

Ruru nest in various locations, from tree hollows to cavities among rocks, showcasing adaptability in their nesting choices. Unfortunately, ruru face threats from predators like cats, possums, rats, and mustelids, especially during nesting. Human impact on their natural habitat poses additional challenges. To support these captivating birds, conservation efforts can focus on creating suitable nesting sites, providing a food source, and predator control.

If you wish to welcome the ruru into your surroundings, consider these steps as suggested by Kohab:

  1. Plant Puriri and Ngaio Trees: These trees attract puriri moths and wētā’s, favoured by ruru.
  2. Maintain Large Trees: Ruru thrive around well-established vegetation, so preserving large trees is vital.
  3. Trap for Predators: Reduce pests in your area to protect ruru from predation.

Incorporating these practices ensures the preservation of the ruru, contributing to the conservation of New Zealand’s unique biodiversity. Check-in with our website or social media in May for the findings from the ruru listening survey, Thank you for your help.

Scan the QR code or click this link to listen to ruru calls and participate in the ruru monitoring survey.

Ruru Survey April 2024 QR Code