13 Dec 2017

Bird recovery centre nurses morepork chick

2:38 pm on 13 December 2017

Whangarei's bird recovery centre is nursing its first baby morepork of the season and asking to people to keep an eye out for more.

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Photo: RNZ / Lois Williams

The tiny ruru, Fluffy, is thriving on a diet of ox-heart and neck chops after he was found on the ground under his nest.

Centre manager Robert Webb said morepork parents often took drastic action when their nests overheated in early summer.

"If the mother can't keep her babies cool by flapping her wings, then she'll pick one or two of the little fellas, and chuck them out of the nest," he said.

"Because they're such a little fluff-ball, they overheat very quickly and it can get too much for her."

The ruru babies survive the fall but starve to death, or fall victim to predators, unless they're rescued.

Mr Webb said the centre has had up to five ruru orphans in its nursery at a time in hot summers.

"We keep them for seven or eight weeks, and when they're ready to go, we tell the people who brought them in and they can come and take them home and release them. The kids love to do that."

Fluffy, at 12 days old, at Whangarei's bird recovery centre

Fluffy, at 12 days old. Photo: Supplied / Whangarei Native Bird Recovery Centre

The Whangarei Native Bird Recovery Centre is also caring for two little blue penguin chicks.

"They've come in because the parents have been run over on the water; they don't get fed so they scream at night like children, and people find them."

Mr Webb said at this time of year farmers often found baby harrier hawks after top-chopping the rushes in their paddocks where they nest.

It was tempting to keep them as pets, he said, but the birds needed a specialist diet and would go downhill fast without it.

"My advice would be bring any of these orphans in to the centre as soon as you can, and we'll look after them," Mr Webb said.