Ruru the perfect night hunter
• Soft fringes on the Ruru’s feathers enable the birds to fly silently through the air so that they can approach their prey without warning.
• Large forward-facing eyes, give them binocular vision - perfect for swooping on prey.
• Flexible necks can rotate 270 degrees to look for prey
• Excellent hearing: their disc–shaped faces direct the slightest sound to their large ear openings
• Sharp talons and beak grip prey
Hine-ruru: owl woman
The ancestral spirit of a family group can take the form of a Ruru in some Māori tradition. This spirit is known as 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. While it’s high piercing ‘quee’ call spells bad news, its normal ‘more-pork’ call means that good news is on its way.
Inspiration for Māori carving and haka
The big yellow eyes of the ruru were probably an inspiration to Māori carvers. The style of carvings in meeting houses with wide open eyes are thought to be motivated by them so too are the wide open eyes given during a pukana in Maori haka and performances.
Ruru or Morepork (Ninox novaeseelandiae)
New Zealand’s only surviving native owl