Ruru,Tasmanian spotted owl, Ruru, Tasmanian spotted owl

2 languages
Ninox novaeseelandiae
Population size
Life Span
5-11 yrs
140-216 g
26-29 cm

The morepork (Ninox novaeseelandiae ), also called the ruru or Tasmanian spotted owl, is a small brown owl found throughout New Zealand and Tasmania. Described by Johann Friedrich Gmelin in 1788, it was for many years considered to be the same species as the Australian boobook of mainland Australia until 1999. Its name is derived from its two-tone call. Four subspecies of the morepork are recognized, one of which is extinct and another that exists only as a hybrid population. The bird has almost 20 alternative common names, including mopoke and boobook—many of these names are onomatopoeic, as they emulate the bird's distinctive two-pitched call.

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It has dark brown plumage with prominent pale spots, and golden-yellow eyes. It is generally nocturnal, though sometimes active at dawn and dusk, retiring to roost in secluded spots in the foliage of trees. The morepork feeds on insects and small vertebrates, hunting by pouncing on them from tree perches. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed the morepork as being of least concern on account of its large range and apparently stable population.

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Ambush predator










Not a migrant


starts with


The Morepork also called the Ruru is a small brown forest-dwelling owl. Its name is derived from its two-tone call. The bird has generally dark brown head and upperparts, with pale brown spots on head and neck and white markings on the rest of the upperparts, with a pale yellow-white supercilium (eyebrow), dark brown ear coverts, and buff cheeks. The feathers of the chin and throat are buff with dark brown shafts. The feathers of the underparts are mostly dark brown with buff and white spots and streaks, with the larger markings on the belly making it look paler overall. The upper tail is dark brown with lighter brown bars. The feet of morepork are orange or yellow in color with blackish claws.



Moreporks are found throughout New Zealand and on Norfolk Island. The birds occur in most habitats with trees, in New Zealand forests dominated by conifers and beeches, and other hardwoods, up to the alpine tree line. On Norfolk Island, they live in the forests of Norfolk Island pine. Moreporks are also common in urban areas, farmlands, and plantations.

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

These birds are sedentary within their range and don't migrate. They are usually seen singly, in pairs, or in small family groups of an adult pair and up to three young. They are generally nocturnal, though they may sometimes be active at dawn and dusk. During the day, moreporks retire to roosts in secluded spots in the foliage of trees. The main hunting times are evenings and mornings, with brief bursts of activity through the night. On dark nights, they often perch through the middle hours, and particularly if the weather is bad, may hunt by daylight, instead. Although their main hunting technique is perch-and-pounce, they are agile birds with a swift, goshawk-like wing action; they are able to maneuver rapidly when pursuing prey or hawking for insects. Moreporks are usually vocal at night, just before dawn, and during the breeding season. Their main calls are 'quor-quo' and 'boo-book' hoots; during the breeding season, the birds usually make 'cree-cree', mewing and rippling sounds.

Group name
Seasonal behavior
Bird's call

Diet and Nutrition

Moreporks are carnivores (insectivores). They feed mainly on insects and small vertebrates such as scarab and huhu beetles, moths and caterpillars, spiders, grasshoppers, and in New Zealand, weta. They also take almost any suitably sized prey, particularly small birds, rats, and mice.

Mating Habits

1 month
owlet, fledgling
2-3 eggs

Moreporks are monogamous birds that form strong long-lasting pair bonds. They usually breed between September and February and nest anywhere the trees are large enough to have hollows. Nests are located in hollow trees, tree holes, and sometimes in a tree fork. The female lays 2-3 white eggs and incubates them within a month. The owlets hatch helpless and have greyish-white down. They are fed by both parents and fledge at 5 weeks of age. The young usually remain with their parents for some time more and reach reproductive maturity when they are 2-3 years old.


Population threats

Moreporks are widespread and generally common throughout their range. However, the population of these birds is declining due to loss of habitat, predation, and illegal trade.

Population number

The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the morepork total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today remain stable.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • The morepork was described by Johann Friedrich Gmelin in 1788 and was for many years considered to be the same species as the Australian boobook of mainland Australia until 1999.
  • The morepork has almost 20 alternative common names, including mopoke and boobook; many of these names were given to the bird due to resembling its distinctive two-pitched call.
  • In Maori tradition, the morepork represented a watchful guardian and due to its nocturnal lifestyle belonged to the spirit world.
  • Owls enjoy bathing and often take baths in shallow water and even in the rain.
  • The morepork is a silent hunter and is able to detect its prey even by the slightest movement.


1. Morepork on Wikipedia -
2. Morepork on The IUCN Red List site -
3. Xeno-canto bird call -

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