Jokes aside - what to do with a visiting owl?

SNOOZE:  An owl sleeps above the lighting section at Mitre 10 Mega.
SNOOZE: An owl sleeps above the lighting section at Mitre 10 Mega.

There's an owl going cheep at Mitre 10 Mega in Nelson, but wait, there's more - it spied a basement bargain in the store's trade department and doesn't want to leave.

Shoppers yesterday thought the native owl's appearance was a hoot, but management became concerned for its wellbeing and tried all avenues to rescue it, including calling for help from various animal experts.

Mitre 10 Mega marketing co-ordinator Murray Leaning said the morepork turned up in the store yesterday morning, confounding staff and customers as it swooped low and silently above their heads.

Moreporks have soft fringes on the edge of their feathers, so they can fly almost silently.

"We couldn't believe it. We turned up at work yesterday to the news there was a morepork trapped inside. It was still there when we left last night, but it had left the shop and gone into the trade department."

Leaning said it had settled itself high up in the rafters near two big roller doors at either end of the department, which the store left open until closing time at 7pm last night, in the hope the nocturnal native would be drawn outside into the dark.

He said they struggled to figure out how it got into the store, but reckoned it might have been chasing one of the sparrows that regularly dines on crumbs from the cafe's outdoor seating area.

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

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

Leaning said the morepork was "quite large", with a decent sized wingspan, which made the indoor flying event even more surreal.

He figured if it was still there today it would likely be getting hungry without its traditional diet of mice and bugs.

"We talked to the Department of Conservation yesterday, with Halifax vet clinic and with Natureland, who advised us it would be resolved if we could leave the doors open, and it would just fly out."

Leaning said they decided against deploying some of the more novel ideas provided by yesterday's shoppers on how to catch the bird.

"There were all sorts of solutions offered for catching it. The most outlandish? Putting a dead mouse on a piece of string and leading it to the door."


The morepork is New Zealand's only surviving native owl.

They are found in mainland New Zealand's forests and on many offshore islands.

They are speckled dark brown, with yellow eyes and long tails, grow up to about 29 centimetres long from head to tail, and a weight of 175 grams.

During the day, moreporks sleep in roosts. By night they hunt a variety of animals – mainly large invertebrates, including scarab and huhu beetles, moths and caterpillars, weta and spiders. They also take small birds, rats and mice.

The Nelson Mail