Literally unbelievable video of golden eagle snatching baby is literally unbelievable

Via basically everyone, this video is unbelievable. A golden eagle tries – and fails, thank god – to fly away with somebody's baby:

Golden eagles have been filmed hunting reindeer calves and adult deer, so that baby was lucky.


"This video is unbelievable" was clearly my subconscious being more right than I thought, because I actually don't believe this video is true.

A few people have watched it closer than I have, and frame-by-frame there are some things visible which are either very strange artefacts, or signs of a good CGI job.

For instance, when the bird swoops down, its shadow pops in one frame after it does. And for one frame, and one frame only, around three seconds in, its right wing becomes transparent.

Then there is the slightly odd motion of the child after the eagle lets go of it. Not only does it carry on going up - which would just be momentum - but its ascent actually speeds up a bit before falling

Then there's the smell-test of the circumstances. The YouTube uploader joined yesterday, has never posted any other videos, and hasn't linked their account to anything else. If you're making a YouTube account these days, you have to make a special effort not to link that account to something like a G+ profile, and the uploader seems to have gone to that effort.

And finally, the Isle of Mull Eagle Watch team think that that's not a golden eagle at all, but a juvenile eastern imperial eagle, which is not native to North America and unlikely to be hanging around Montreal parks.

None of this is conclusive evidence; but it's enough for me. I've changed the headline of this piece to reflect that. In the meantime I'm trying to find a way to contact MrNuclearCat, to get their side of the story.

Update 2

It's confirmed: the video was a hoax by a Montreal animation school, Centre NAD:


The “Golden Eagle Snatches Kid” video, uploaded to YouTube on the evening of December 18, was made by Normand Archambault, Loïc Mireault and Félix Marquis-Poulin, students at Centre NAD, in the production simulation workshop class of the Bachelors degree in 3D Animation and Digital Design.
Falconer Volker Walter (L) with a golden eagle on his arm. Photograph: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

Photo: Getty Images
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Autumn Statement 2015: George Osborne abandons his target

How will George Osborne close the deficit after his U-Turns? Answer: he won't, of course. 

“Good governments U-Turn, and U-Turn frequently.” That’s Andrew Adonis’ maxim, and George Osborne borrowed heavily from him today, delivering two big U-Turns, on tax credits and on police funding. There will be no cuts to tax credits or to the police.

The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that, in total, the government gave away £6.2 billion next year, more than half of which is the reverse to tax credits.

Osborne claims that he will still deliver his planned £12bn reduction in welfare. But, as I’ve written before, without cutting tax credits, it’s difficult to see how you can get £12bn out of the welfare bill. Here’s the OBR’s chart of welfare spending:

The government has already promised to protect child benefit and pension spending – in fact, it actually increased pensioner spending today. So all that’s left is tax credits. If the government is not going to cut them, where’s the £12bn come from?

A bit of clever accounting today got Osborne out of his hole. The Universal Credit, once it comes in in full, will replace tax credits anyway, allowing him to describe his U-Turn as a delay, not a full retreat. But the reality – as the Treasury has admitted privately for some time – is that the Universal Credit will never be wholly implemented. The pilot schemes – one of which, in Hammersmith, I have visited myself – are little more than Potemkin set-ups. Iain Duncan Smith’s Universal Credit will never be rolled out in full. The savings from switching from tax credits to Universal Credit will never materialise.

The £12bn is smaller, too, than it was this time last week. Instead of cutting £12bn from the welfare budget by 2017-8, the government will instead cut £12bn by the end of the parliament – a much smaller task.

That’s not to say that the cuts to departmental spending and welfare will be painless – far from it. Employment Support Allowance – what used to be called incapacity benefit and severe disablement benefit – will be cut down to the level of Jobseekers’ Allowance, while the government will erect further hurdles to claimants. Cuts to departmental spending will mean a further reduction in the numbers of public sector workers.  But it will be some way short of the reductions in welfare spending required to hit Osborne’s deficit reduction timetable.

So, where’s the money coming from? The answer is nowhere. What we'll instead get is five more years of the same: increasing household debt, austerity largely concentrated on the poorest, and yet more borrowing. As the last five years proved, the Conservatives don’t need to close the deficit to be re-elected. In fact, it may be that having the need to “finish the job” as a stick to beat Labour with actually helped the Tories in May. They have neither an economic imperative nor a political one to close the deficit. 

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.