Thursday, 9 December 2010


It's just after 9.30 pm and I heard a car and a door shut.  It has to be a car arriving at The Cottage or The House because there is nowhere else close.   So I opened the ranch sliders and stepped onto the deck.  There was no car in my drive so I just savoured the cold air for a minute or two.  As I stood there a Morepork started calling.  It is the first one that I have heard since I returned to New Zealand  nearly six weeks ago.  

The Morepork is so called because its call is 'more pork'.  For those who don't know a Morepork is a small owl also known as the Southern Boobook (Ninox novaeseelandiae)  or Ruru.  It's found all over New Zealand and across most of Australia.   They are mainly nocturnal, but are sometimes active at dawn and dusk.  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 and the ability to manoeuvre rapidly when pursuing prey or hawking for insects and small birds.  

The morepork lends its name to the fictional city of Ankh-Morpork (is a fictional city which prominently features in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series of fantasy novels) and appears on its coat-of-arms.

Coat of arms of Ankh-Morpork
A shield, quartered by a river (the Ankh) and tower (the Tower of Art). The quarters bear two moneybags,  a field of cabbages and the unmarked black field of the Vetinaris.
The shield is supported by two hippopotamuses and crested with a morpork holding an ankh.


  1. You know how I love the call of the morepork. In a few minutes I will sit outside for a while like I do nearly every night to listen to them calling in the mountains and down by the creek. To me they are calling "all's well" rather than "more pork". In my imaginary world they guard the place while I sleep. Tonight I will entrust my world to them while I'm away.

  2. What a beautiful little bird. I'll have to go online and see if I can find the call of one to listen to.

  3. I enjoyed that! Thanks! I feel enlightened... I've never seen that shield and I had no idea that Morpork is an owl! Actually it never even occured to me to connect the Ankh- in Ankh-Morpork to the ancient Egyptian sign. Perhaps partly because I've only listened to the Discworld books, not read them "with my eyes".

  4. Love Disc World - thank you for that crest!

  5. I think I prefer the alternative name for the Morepork though, BooBook. They are also a brilliant bird for flying to the glove in falconry -- see my photos from 2008, when you got all confused over the name

  6. I've still never heard anyone in NZ refer to it as anything but a Morepork and, indeed, few people seem to know that it is also called a BooBook. That's not surprising given that my Birds of NZ doesn't mention the name.