Rory Foley has a new friend in Mr Hoot, a little owl that has been coming into his Pleasant Point home through a cat flap.
The TV-watching little owl that uses a cat flap to gain entrance to an unsuspecting man’s home may have been hand-reared or kept as a pet before making itself at home in Pleasant Point, an advanced avian veterinary nurse says.
Alan Parker believes the behaviour displayed by Mr Hoot, the little owl that has gained international attention over the past two days after its story first appeared on Stuff, may indicate it had been kept as a pet before.
For the past three months, Foley has noticed the fledgling in a tree outside his bedroom window, staring in at him, and has nicknamed the young bird Mr Hoot.
But even he was surprised when several days ago at 11pm he heard a crash and a bang at his cat flap, and on inspection discovered the owl was making its way inside.
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The fact the little owl had come into someone’s home and even sat down on the couch with a human was not normal behaviour for the bird, Parker said.
“It’s possible it’s been someone’s pet and released or a member of the public has taken it on and hand-reared it.’’
He said while the story of Mr Hoot was cute, it was also a good way of reminding the public that owls were not pets.
According to the Department of Conservation website, the little owl is “unique’’ in that it has schedule 2 protection under the Wildlife Act despite being an introduced species.
Parker said it was positive Foley was using the situation as a way of advocating for the birds’ plight.
“It’s good that people are aware you can’t keep them as pets.’’
He said people had an affinity with the birds, as they were often portrayed in movies and because of their “cuteness factor’’.
“It’s not often people see them as they are usually very good at blending in with their surroundings.
“They are somewhat solitary birds until breeding time.’’
Foley said he was shocked by the amount of attention his story had garnered.
He was encouraging the owl outside by building a nesting box in its favourite walnut tree on the property.
“Hopefully he’ll move into his new digs by the end of the week,’’ Foley said.
“I’m encouraging him outside.’’
Mr Hoot had been “very popular’’, he said.
“Radio, TV, a guy from California is writing an article, after the Stuff story.
“He’s become a bit of a celebrity.’’