New Zealand’s only known surviving owl is known as the morepork. You will often hear them in the forest at night. They are known for their call. The Moan people called them the ruru.
The large laughing owl was declared extinct in the 20th century.
You will usually find the morepork living in the forests all over the New Zealand mainland. They are also found on the offshore islands. They are considered not to be threatened at this time.
The morepork is a speckled brown. They have a dark mask on their face and yellow eyes. Their tail is short. The males are smaller than the female. They are usually around 29cm long and will weigh around 175g. They do not do well in bright light and their hearing is very good
They are night creatures. They will hunt for beetles, weta, moths and spiders at night. They will also hunt for small birds, rats and mice. They will use their large shark talons and beak to catch their prey. During the daylight hours they will roost in the cavities of trees and in thick vegetation.
The morepork will nest in tree cavities, in rocks and roots. The female will lay her eggs and she is the only one that incubates them. It usually will take the eggs 20 to 30 days to hatch. When the female is sitting on the eggs the male will bring her food. After the eggs have hatched the female stays until the chicks have all their feathers. The chicks will usually fledge in 37 to 42 days.
The Maori people viewed the morepork as a guardian. They believed the morepork was a member of the spirit world.