A man at a family picnic along the Yarra River in Melbourne, Australia, was filming a flying hawk when it suddenly swooped down, picked up a snake and flew directly at the picnickers before dropping the reptile on them. Allegedly.
Douglas Wong posted the video on YouTube—the only video he's posted—with this description: "So funny. Bird dropped snake on my uncle last weekend. Scary!"
The video sent media outlets clamoring for details while the viewing public scoffed at the notion the video was real.
HuffPost Australia reached out to Wong in the comments, as did many other media outlets, to which Bird Spy Australia replied, "You do know it's fake, right?"
"Looks real to me, that's 'Straya for ya!" wrote KingWill185.
"Fake" another wrote.
"If news stations could report this obviously fake video as news, I would be sooooooo happy," Manticcore Pinion wrote.
And then this from Darren Wallace: "I almost find it disheartening to see how many `journalists' are scrambling to get their hands on this video which is clearly fake. The very people who pride themselves on seeking out news get hypnotized like a moth to flame by a student level VFX video. Douglas Wong, great job buddy."
Perhaps the most compelling argument in favor of it being fake comes from William Joseph, who wrote, "Here’s a protip for you mate, if you are going to fake a video of a bird of prey, make sure to edit out the seagull sitting on the footpath, 100% that seagull would not be there if that hawk was flying around."
Sean Dooley, editor of Australian Birdlife magazine, concurred. He told The Age, "There is no way a gull wouldn’t react to a huge predator swooping in like that," and also called it a spoof.
The 22-year-old Wong, a student at RMIT University in Melbourne, refused to fess up, however.
"Yes it is real footage," Wong told HuffPost Australia.
What about all the skepticism?
"It doesn't bother me," he said. "It is just a funny video so I'm not offended."
— 3AW Melbourne (@3AW693) August 30, 2016
Wong also told the Daily Mail Australia, "We didn't know it was a snake until it got really close and my uncle ran. I just took it on my phone so I can't really prove it so people keep asking, but I don't mind [people saying it's fake]."
Like the public, none of the experts are buying it either. Jonathan Creek works at a company that specializes in making viral videos and he told 3AW "it's fake" and pointed out a slight jump in the edit at the 15-second mark.
Adding to the debate was professional snake handler Sean McCarthy, who told 3AW that the reptile in the video was a tiger snake commonly found along the Yarra River.
"It could be real," he said, adding that it is "very common" for a bird to pick up a potential meal it discovered was too heavy. But even if the video is fake, the scenario in the video is a real possibility, he said.
So, real or fake? Need we even ask? Remember the seagull.
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