On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me a ruru in a Christmas tree.

Yes, that's right.

Fluffy, a male ruru (morepork) about 12 days old, had Northern Advocate staff gushing over him as he perched in the Christmas tree in the front office.

The baby bird was brought in by Robert Webb from the Whangarei Bird Recovery Centre.

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Tis the season where the centre starts getting baby moreporks through the doors.

"When I got him he was only about six days old. With the hot weather around the mother bird will have three or four babies in the nest. If she can't keep her babies cool she will pick one or two of the little baby birds and throw them out the nest so they end up on the ground," Mr Webb said.

Fluffy was found and brought into the centre by a lady in Maunu.

Fluffy the morepork was happy perching in the Christmas tree at the Northern Advocate. Photo / Tania Whyte
Fluffy the morepork was happy perching in the Christmas tree at the Northern Advocate. Photo / Tania Whyte

Every year the bird recovery centre see about four or five moreporks coming in, and Fluffy is the first this summer.

"A lot of people would love to have them as a little pet, but when they're little like this if they're not being fed the right diet or vitamins, after a couple of weeks they will start going downhill because their bones turn to chalk. It's quite sad," Mr Webb said.

Fluffy the morepork was happy perching in the Christmas tree at the Northern Advocate. Photo/Tania Whyte
Fluffy the morepork was happy perching in the Christmas tree at the Northern Advocate. Photo/Tania Whyte

Moreporks love little insects, mice, little birds, and when they're young they need a certain amount of roughage like a bit of fluff and feather.

Baby moreporks usually stay at the bird recovery centre for about eight weeks.

The birds are hand-reared, and when they grow all the feathers on their wings and can go on short flights they are moved to the outdoor aviary where birds will learn to fly and catch insects.

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"About a week before we let him go we stop handling him and won't talk to him anymore. What that does is, after one week of not being spoken to or touched, when you go to pick him up to do something with him you've got to put gloves on because he'll claw you.

"So it's reverting him back to the wild status in preparation for going out. And that's the best part when you see them fly away back into the wild again."

Fluffy the morepork and Robert Webb from the Whangarei Bird Recovery Centre. Photo/Tania Whyte
Fluffy the morepork and Robert Webb from the Whangarei Bird Recovery Centre. Photo/Tania Whyte

He said if anyone finds a baby morepork on the ground they should call the Whangarei Bird Recovery Centre on 09 438 1457

Morepork Facts:

* The females are bigger than the males. Head to tail they measure around 29cm and the average weight is about 175g.
* They have acute hearing and are sensitive to light.
* They can turn their head through 270 degrees.
* Morepork are nocturnal, hunting at night for large invertebrates including beetles, weta, moths and spiders. They will also take small birds, rats and mice.
* In Maori tradition the morepork was seen as a watchful guardian. It belonged to the spirit world as it is a bird of the night.