World's Largest Owl Hatches Giant Babies Outside Man's Window and Now They Watch TV With Him

One of the world's largest owls hatched its three chicks in the window planter box outside a third-floor apartment in a city in Belgium. The three downy hatchlings have spent some of their first days of life standing at attention like bowling pins, watching TV from over the shoulder of the apartment's resident.

Dutch nature program Vroege Vogels visited the apartment of Jos Baart for a segment that aired Sunday, sharing the story of how he first mistook the cooing from his window box as the work of pigeons.

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!#vroegevogels #springwatch #owl pic.twitter.com/gz1odkFLYC

— Vroege Vogels (@VroegeVogels) May 18, 2020

"I thought: damn, those pigeons again," Baart said, after imitating the cooing noises emanating from his window boxes early one morning. But after getting home from work one day, he surprised the hatchling's mother, who burst into flight.

It wasn't pigeons, but a Eurasian eagle-owl, recognized by Guinness World Records as the world's largest owl. More than two feet in length, with a wingspan that can exceed six feet (males are slightly smaller), the Eurasian eagle-owl can be found as far west as the United Kingdom and across a broad swath of Eurasia, from Spain to the Korean peninsula and the northernmost islands of Japan.

eurasian-eagle-owl
A Eurasian eagle-owl at Cerveny Kamen Castle near the Slovakian capital of Bratislava, in a photograph taken in 2017. SAMUEL KUBANI/AFP via Getty Images

But despite its stable population and vast territory, the nocturnal predator is not easily observed in the wild and is hard to catch on camera.

"You can see how relaxed they are. They're not scared at all," Baart told Vroege Vogels (which translates to Early Birds) from where he kneeled on a pillow just in front of the pane of glass between him and two chicks, who stared placidly back. "For me it's like watching a movie twenty-four seven."

They particularly seem to like when he watches TV, lining up for the best vantage point against the glass. The mother is more wary, often watching over its young from behind a shrub, on the far outside of the planter box.

With a wide range and diverse population, Eurasian eagle-owls will nest just about anywhere, with the male typically presents several different locations for the mother-to-be to choose from, with a preference for high cliff ledges or atop boulders. But in dense forests, eagle-owls are just as comfortable nesting on the ground, or taking over abandoned eagle, stork and buzzard nests.

While the mother was captured on camera by Vroege Vogels, visits from the father have been more rare.

Hatchlings typically begin flying in their second month, then leave the nest and their parent's care a month after that. Baart is hopeful the young owls may one day return to raise their own hatchlings in his window box.

A rare sight in Belgium, outside the Ardennes Forest, Vroege Vogels plans to offer updates on the hatchlings. Newsweek reached out to Vroege Vogels for additional information regarding the nesting Eurasian eagle-owls, but did not hear back in time for publication.

"As long as it's not pigeons," Baart said. "I don't like them as much."