Watch: Bald eagle battles fox for rabbit in skies above Washington's San Juan Island
A sudden battle between a red fox and bald eagle over a rabbit prey was caught on camera.
Zachary Hartje posted a video on Facebook that shows the young fox walking through grass while biting down on rabbit in San Juan Island, Washington. Then the young critter stops dead in its tracks — and a bald eagle swiftly swoops down and latches onto the fox.
Moments later, the fox and eagle are fighting it out in a frantic mid-air battle to determine who will enjoy the bunny as its next meal.
The eagle lifted the fox about 20 feet into the air, nature photographer Kevin Ebi wrote on his blog LivingWilderness.com. Ebi, who has a book titled "The Year of the Eagle," managed to snap pictures of the chance encounter.
He called it a "dramatic act of thievery" because the eagle made off with the bunny in its talons.
"I spent the day watching several young foxes, called kits, rest and play on the prairie," he wrote on his blog. "I counted at least eight kits. There are probably more. Shortly before sunset, they started hunting. One fox managed to snag a rabbit’s foot. Several kits gave chase, but it made it to its den to feed.
"About 15 minutes later, a red fox caught a rabbit and was carrying it across the meadow. I panned my camera with it to capture the action," he continued. "Then behind me, I heard the cry of a bald eagle. I turned around and saw it approaching fast. I knew it wanted the rabbit. I intently trained my camera on the fox bracing for a split second of action.
"To my surprise, the scene was even more dramatic than I expected."
KING5 originally reported the story just using Ebi's photographs. But then Hartje reached out to the TV station on Facebook and shared that he caught the battle between mammal and bird in a video.
Here's the full video from Hartje, who has other nature pictures on his personal Instagram account.
Commenters reacted to Hartje's Facebook post with the amazing video.
"Wow!" one person wrote. "That fox held on for dear life."
"This happened to our little kitty one afternoon on the farm," another person remarked. "A hawk swooped down and carried him away before my eyes. His scream is still etched in my mind (30 yrs ago)."
While Ebi can't speak for the fate of the rabbit, he had some reassuring news for those worried about the fox.
"Don’t worry: the fox was fine," he wrote. "It shook off the encounter and resumed playing with its fellow kits. I took several pictures of it after the ordeal and couldn’t find a single scratch."