Morepork Outreach Project
Although morepork (Ruru) are widespread and relatively common in many parts of New Zealand, they are less common on the east coast of the South Island. This is largely due to changes in their preferred habitat and the added impact of mammalian predators such as rats, wild cats, stoats and possums. Morepork are known to be present in several places around Banks Peninsula such as Okuti Valley, Le Bon’s Bay, Akaroa and Okains Bay, but in other areas their distinctive call is seldom heard. Morepork will also make use of exotic pine plantations and are sometimes heard in the Akaroa township.
Morepork lay eggs and rear their chicks inside the cavities of mature trees leaving them vulnerable because they cannot escape from predators. In the absence of a suitable cavity to nest in, morepork will also make their nest in tree ferns or in holes in the ground.
Studies by DOC have found a sex ratio bias with more males than females suggesting that the females are being targeted by predators while inside nest cavities raising their chicks. Recruitment of morepork chicks and breeding success was also shown to be low which could be related to food supply or predation. The concern is that there are similar trends on Banks Peninsula with many males and few females leaving few opportunities for recruitment of the next generation of birds.
t is not known how long morepork live for but the oldest known bird is 40 years old living in captivity. Morepork select a mate for life and strongly defend their territory. In the Eglinton Valley (Fiordland) their territories are about 43ha but they are likely to be bigger on Banks Peninsula where there are fewer morepork.
This year, the Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust were fortunate to receive a $4,000 grant from the JS Watson Trust to study morepork and their habitat requirements. With the help of the Banks Peninsula community, it is hoped that we can shed some light on where morepork are living on the peninsula and get a better idea of what conservation actions might help them survive in the future.
The project is being coordinated by Alison Evans and the Trust is fortunate to have Moira Pryde from DOC as the scientific advisor.
The key aims of the project are:
To determine the distribution of morepork on Banks Peninsula using community based monitoring and acoustic monitors.
· To improve the breeding success of local populations by providing wooden nest boxes.
· To increase the awareness of morepork conservation issues through a school outreach programme.
· To target pest control in areas where morepork are present and use morepork as an indicator of improved habitat condition in private covenants.
If you love morepork as much as we do please download our ‘Morepork Monday’ monitoring form to learn more about how you can help.
Click here to download a 'Morepork Monday' monitoring form