Bird Carries off a Baby . . . Hoax

In Mont-Royal Park, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, a large bird of prey swoops down to pick up a small toddler who is sitting just eighteen feet or so from his mother . . . or so it appears in a video that was posted on Youtube on December 17, 2012.

The terrifying encounter never actually happened, however. The next day, an animation college in Quebec admitted that a few students had created the deception, using two computer 3D models: a bird and a baby.

As of December 29, that Youtube video had 40 million viewers, surpassing the goal of the creators of the hoax: to make a popular video. But it may have created a problem that could take some time to solve, for maybe a million viewers or so may still be unaware of the announcement that it was a hoax.

It reminds me of the War of the Worlds radio broadcast of 1938, in which many listeners in the United States heard what appeared to be a long news account of an invasion from aliens, Martians to be precise. About 6-20 Million Americans heard that broadcast, although perhaps only 15% to 25% believed that there was an invasion. That radio broadcast was a reading of a fictional story, a reading by Orson Welles.

Criticism of the Hoax Hypothesis

Soon after I brought up the subject of contradictory shadow directions in the video, I received a response from another Youtube viewer, somebody who had not yet learned about the announcement of the hoax:

“I don’t know what you mean. I’ve watched the video again and all shadows (trees, people, eagle) clearly point to the same direction. I’ve seen this happen to animals much larger than this baby was and since the video doesn’t seem fake to me. people even commented about how it was shown in a Canadian news report, but I guess you all wanna believe what you want. feel free to do so, I think it’s real until someone proves me wrong, which wouldn’t be a big deal for me. we all make errors..even eagles”

Part of what prevented that person from taking my idea seriously was my lack of details in explaining the shadows. This deserves a little explanation. Just watching through the video (at normal speed) does not help, for the viewer needs to stop where the right side of the meadow appears. Otherwise that scene flashes through our view too quickly to notice any shadows.

Another Youtuber viewer was set on the idea that there is no problem with any shadows in the video:

“Need to look again one tree is on a hill an the shadow is in the same direction as the one in the foreground,  just the hill makes it look that way. Learn a bit LOL”

I did learn something, but it was different from what that person would guess: Many Youtube viewers (including this person) do not comprehend new ideas when they read words, at least compared with when they look at images.

Problem with Shadows

still image from the Youtube video "Golden Eagle Snatches Kid" - it shows shadows

On the right side of the park, shadows fall to the left


Shadows in middle of park

In the middle of the meadow, shadows continue to fall to the left

As the camera pans moderately far across the meadow, the shadows indicate the sun is on the right. As it gets to the part of the meadow where the “baby” is grabbed by the “eagle,” then shadows suddenly show something very different: The sun seems to be on the left.

This still image from the video shows shadows in very different directions

This frame of the video proves major tampering took place

When one frame of a standard home video shows shadows going in almost opposite directions, there is a problem. In this video, a few frames show this weird appearance of shadow contradiction.


On the left side of meadow, shadows fall to the right

Just a little further to the left, it is obvious how the shadows fall: to the right

The shadow problem shown above add a bit of mystery still, for why would the animators have needed to combine two images of the park? I would have thought there would be no need for altering the appearance of this meadow, for they were adding two animation models onto the background, which normally requires only limited (if any) change in the background.


Did a Bird Grab a Baby?

Other indications of hoax involve the actions or inactions of persons shown. One person walking by the scene of the apparent attack pays no attention except to look in the direction of the videographer. The mother does not even notice the large bird as it shoots towards her and her baby.

Youtube Eagle Video Hoax

The video showing a bird grabbing a baby was a hoax, a convincing imitation of a home video, a convincing portrayal of a large bird of prey, during its flight near the ground, in a park in Montreal, Canada, picking up a human child. Both bird and child were computer animation objects

Fake Bird Attacks Fake Baby

In one frame of the video, one of the bird’s wings has vanished. Also, the apparent voice of the camera operator seems off, for he says “wow” when the bird is flying in an ordinary way high up above the park, but when it flies much closer and low to the ground the camera operator says nothing.

Hornbill Bird Misidentification?

Somebody once suggested that some sighting reports of apparent pterosaurs were misidentifications of Hornbill birds. But what sightings? That skeptic made the same mistake as many other skeptics: throwing out generalizations rather than examining specific sighting reports.