Morepork stays dry in Mitre 10 roost

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 12:58 14/05/2014
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MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ
HAPPY TO STAY: The morepork at Mitre 10 Mega.

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The Mitre 10 Mega morepork seems to have taken a liking to its large new home inside the Nelson store.

Earlier yesterday the store's marketing coordinator, Murray Leaning, was "happy to report" that the friendly native owl, which arrived and set up home on Monday, had left the building under its own steam, unharmed and happy.

Several hours later the update - dubbed Operation Wise Owl in deference to last week's Royal New Zealand Air Force pilot training exercise in Nelson - said the nocturnal bird had returned, apparently happy with its newfound roost in the rafters above the trade department.

"You'll be pleased to know that he's a homing owl," Leaning said yesterday afternoon. "He flew out the door, flew around for a while, and flew back in. He doesn't like the rain."

Leaning said the morepork turned up in the store on Monday morning, confounding staff and customers as it swooped low and silently above their heads.

"We couldn't believe it. We turned up at work to the news there was a morepork trapped inside," he said yesterday.

Staff reckoned the bird got into the building while chasing one of the sparrows that dine on crumbs from the outdoor seating area at the store's cafe. Small birds are part of a morepork's diet.

"We figured it most likely followed in a sparrow from outside and managed to find its way to the garden centre," Leaning said.

"I was amazed to see it flying around so calmly."

He said the morepork was "quite large", with a decent wingspan, which made its presence even more surreal.

On Monday, the store's managers became concerned for the bird's wellbeing and tried various way to get it to leave, including calling various animal experts to seek help. Their advice was to give the morepork the chance to leave on its own.

"He is sitting on a rafter to the side of one of the entry doors, quite calm and happy - as are we, now we know that he knows, to wit, the way out," Leaning said yesterday.

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- The Nelson Mail

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