Ruru are nocturnal and feed predominantly on invertebrates such as weta, beetles, moths and cicadas. They will also predate occasionally upon small mammals such as mice and native bats and lizards. Like all raptors they strike at their prey with their strong feet (this enables them to protect their vulnerable eyes) and they use their hooked beaks to tear their food.
Any material that can’t be digested (such as bones, feathers or fur) is later regurgitated as pellets. At the Kiwi House we feed Ruru with mice and chicks. Keeping staff put food in different places and are about to install a portable light to encourage insects in the enclosure that Ruru can hunt. For further enrichment our newly completed Ruru enclosure enables a number of Ruru to live together.
As Ruru females are particularly territorial, our new enclosure has been designed to provide adequate screened off areas to allow birds to withdraw from each other. There is also a clear ‘flight path’ to enable them to stretch their wings. In the new ruru enclosure we have ‘Mum and Dad Ruru’ plus two offspring from consecutive years (male 2011; female 2012).
The young female may be the little sister of this family but on health checks she certainly proved that she is a ‘force to be reckoned with’ weighing in at 220g (a full 22g heavier than any member of her family- even her mum!). Plus she managed to bite Ant during the health checks to give him his first experience of just how sharp an owl’s beak is.