Europe’s largest owl nests in a Dutch man’s window box

May 19, 2020 • 12:30 pm

Reader Geert sent me this amazing video of a Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo) nesting in a guy’s window box, producing three gynmormous chicks. The guy seems respectful of this amazing circumstance, though I worry that his failure to keep social distance from the chicks would freak them out. However, they seem fine.

What a lovely thing to observe!  here are the Youtube notes:

We could hardly believe it when we got a message from Jos Baart telling us that Europe’s biggest owl, the Eurasian eagle-owl, had made a nest in a planter in front of his window. Not only that, she had also hatched three giant chicks! Now, when he watches television, three huge chicks watch television with him.

Vroege Vogels is a Dutch radio and television show about nature, environment, climate and animal welfare.

Finally, how big are these things? Well, how about ten pounds (4.5 kg)?  Imagine lifting two five-pound bags of sugar, and that’s what hefting one of these owls would be like. (That’s the equivalent of nine barn owls!) The size info from Wikipedia:

The Eurasian eagle-owl is a very large bird, smaller than the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) but larger than the snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus), despite some overlap in size with both species. It is sometimes referred to as the world’s largest owl, although Blakiston’s fish owl (B. blakistoni) is slightly heavier on average and the much lighter weight great grey owl (Strix nebulosa) is slightly longer on average. Heimo Mikkola reported the largest specimens of eagle-owl as having the same upper body mass, 4.6 kg (10 lb), as the largest Blakiston’s fish owl and attained a length of around 3 cm (1.2 in) longer. In terms of average weight and wing size, the Blakiston’s is the slightly larger species seemingly, even averaging a bit larger in these aspects than the biggest eagle-owl races from Russia. Also, although 9 cm (3.5 in) shorter than the largest of the latter species, the Eurasian eagle-owl can weigh well more than twice as much as the largest great grey owl. The Eurasian eagle-owl typically has a wingspan of 131–188 cm (4 ft 4 in–6 ft 2 in), with the largest specimens possibly attaining 200 cm (6 ft 7 in). The total length of the species can vary from 56 to 75 cm (22 to 30 in). Females can weigh from 1.75 to 4.6 kg (3.9 to 10.1 lb) and males can weigh from 1.22 to 3.2 kg (2.7 to 7.1 lb). In comparison, the barn owl (Tyto alba), the world’s most widely distributed owl species, weighs about 500 g (1.1 lb) and the great horned owl (Bubo virginianus), which fills the eagle-owl’s ecological niche in North America, weighs around 1.4 kg (3.1 lb).

And it’s not endangered: it’s a “species of least concern”.

20 thoughts on “Europe’s largest owl nests in a Dutch man’s window box

  1. The guy loves the owls and hates pigeons — I imagine as long as he has the former around the place, he doesn’t have to worry about that latter!

    1. I think the neighbors would be wise to keep their cats [and small dogs] indoors, at least until these guys fledge!

  2. That’s amazing and exceedingly amusing. Lucky stiff. Those huge fluffy owl chicks remind me of the humongous king penguin chicks.

    I wonder what effect, if any, constantly beholding this human’s environment, not to mention watching TV with him, will shape their behavior. Do they consider it an extension of their nest or are they just blasé?

    I hope the man leaves them alone, watches (mostly) from a distance, and lets the mother tend to her young as she should.

  3. A pair of Eurasian eagle-owl nests since a few years in St. Mary’s Cathedral (a World Cultural Heritage) in my former home town of Hildesheim and have become a local celebrity.

    https://www.bistum-hildesheim.de/dom-uhus/

    It is very interesting that the owls do not mind to breed in the vicinity of loud bells. The eagle owls also do not mind the numerous tourists, who usually visit the church during the warm months.

    They have no problems to find enough food in a city of 100000 inhabitants, because they go hunting in the parks or the nearby forest.

  4. My own nest box holds baby western screech owls. The adults are only 9 inches long. They’d probably make a small snack for one of these giants.

  5. At first I thought how lucky he was. And then I thought how many of the neighborhood kitties they are eating. 🙁 But he is very extremely lucky.

  6. Wow and fabulous, yes, but also disrespectful, doncha think? We’re seeing the owlets as they move toward fledging, but the tapping on the window, getting them to follow finger movements, and encouraging them to watch TV is, IMO, unnecessary and rude. Was Mama owl given some privacy when she chose the window box as a nest and when feeding her chicks? If not, it’s amazing that she chose to stay and the human most likely won’t see her again next year.

    1. Yes, I agree with you. These are not playthings, but wild birds. I for one would not bother or condition the babies like this; I may even have installed a blind with a peephole. I wish the guy would at least just watch them from several feet away.

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