Boobooks Owl, 'Morepork' from New Zealand
Ninox Boobook - 'Ruru'
The Boobooks Owl is a small owl originating from New Zealand, Australasia and New Guinea, living in almost any habitat, and feeding on mice, insects and beetles. To this end they need to keep very active, and very fast, burning up a great deal of energy to capture a meal, mainly at night time. Very often the 'Morepork' Owl is heard and not seen!
In the wild the adult Boobooks Owl catches some of its prey 'on the wing', and is very fast, and intense with his flying. Ruru has not yet achieved that style of 'hunting' and prefers to spend less energy seeking his morsels of food from the glove or the floor! We are sure he would be an insect feeder if in the wild!
The New Zealnd Morepork owl is believed to have originated from the underworld, and is strongly associated with spirits in Maori mythology, and many stories surround the Morepork or Ruru. It is believed that if a Morepork sits conspicuously nearby or even enters a house there will be a death in the family. In times gone by these strong beliefs led to some Taranaki Maori eating these lovely little owls, believing that it would prolong their lives. The ancestral spirit of a family group can take the form of a Ruru (Morepork) in Maori tradition. This spirit is kown as the Hine-ruru, the 'owl woman'. It is believed that these owl spirits can act as kaitiaki or guardians and have the power to protect, warn and advise! Strangely, I have often been called The Owl Lady in the past 30 years! :)
All our owls are with us at Exmoor Owl and Hawk Centre to help us all appreciate the amazing relationship between mankind and our natural environment and to enable us to understand their unique personalities, natural environmental adaptations and hunting styles..... a reflection of our own lives perhaps. A life without the natural world is no life at all.