South West Canterbury Integrated Learning - The Ruru Informational Report

WALT write a information report about a resource found in the Canterbury area that is of significance to the Maori.

The Ruru (Morepork/Koukou)

The Ruru is a small chocolate brown owl, with yellow beady eyes and a narrow hooked beak. They can be found in New Zealand and Tasmania. Ruru are commonly found in forests throughout mainland New Zealand and on offshore islands. The Ruru is New Zealand’s only surviving native owl. It is known for its haunting and shrill call.

What do they eat?
Ruru are nocturnal, hunting at night for large invertebrates including beetles, weta, moths and spiders. They will also prey upon mammals such as small birds, rats and mice. The Ruru also catch roosting birds unaware as they sleep at night!

Was the Ruru helpful in any way to the Maori?
In Māori tradition the Ruru was seen as a watchful guardian. It belonged to the spirit world as it is a bird of the night. Ruru are considered to be wise and represent protection or a warning.

Ruru’s eggs are what colour?
Ruru breed in spring and summer. Nests are usually placed within cavities of live or dead trees, within broken logs, in a tree fork or within a hole in an earth bank. The chicks fledge when they are about 7 weeks old. Their egg colour is an off white cream colour.  

What are Ruru prey for?
Some threats to the Ruru are cats, possums, rats and mustelids. However when nesting on the ground eggs and chicks may also be harmed by pigs and hedgehogs.

How big do Ruru grow?
The females are bigger than the males. Head to tail they measure around 29 cm and the average weight is about 175 g.

Why are Ruru’s eyes yellow?
Large bright yellow shining eyes designed for ideal binocular vision in low intensity light. The Ruru can’t see when there is no light at all, they still need some light to see.
Overall the Ruru was very important to the Maori as it acted as a  guardian, it lives and breeds in forests and has white specks all over its body.

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