“I personally have never seen anything like this before,” says Nordic Mountain Park’s operations manager of this remarkable deer behavior.
Kris Miller, 29, was trimming back foliage in the park when he came across a mangled red-tailed hawk. This is highly unusual, no matter the place, so Miller went to check the security cameras for his Wild Rose, Wisconsin park.
There, the operations manager found this unbelievable footage last month. Within, the hawk shows classic raptor behavior as it dives down to pin and kill a rabbit. For large female red-tails, the blow-on-impact is sometimes enough to finish off their prey right then and there. By the size of this hawk, however, we’re likely looking at a much smaller male without enough weight to accomplish such a feat.
This leaves enough time for a female white-tailed deer to charge in from the bush. Like a vengeful goddess, the doe shoots straight for the hawk and begins stomping it fiercely. The rabbit takes the chance to live and bolts, which you can clearly see below. Truly remarkable!
Watch this once-in-a-lifetime capture for yourself below before more from Nordic Mountain’s Kris Miller, and insights on why this brave deer acted the way she did:
This brave deer went from Bambi to Rambo when it jumped in to save a wild rabbit being attacked by a hungry hawk.Dogtooth Media
Marvels of Animal Behavior: Deer to the Rescue!
“I remember thinking to myself ‘hawks don’t just fall from the sky and die’… So I noticed we were in front of one of our security cameras and was hoping I could see what really happened,” Miller tells The Sun of discovering the footage.
“I played back the footage on my phone and what I found was astonishing,” he continues. “I showed it to my co-worker and he didn’t know what to say… In the video it appears either the red-tailed hawk was struggling holding the rabbit or it swooped down to grab a rabbit.”
So what could trigger such a remarkable response from this deer? For one thing, Miller says Nordic Mountain is a county park in Wisconsin – which means no hunting is allowed. Because of this, he says herds of white-tailed deer will migrate to the park and stay within its safe borders.
As for this doe’s affinity for the smaller mammal under attack, rabbits (this one most likely being a cottontail) will emit distress calls that can sound like that of a baby fawn. It is most likely that the doe heard its calls, registered it as a deer fawn, and instinctively came to the rescue.
Miller echoes this sentiment. “Or maybe it’s just a true Bambi and Thumper story,” he adds.
Large female red-tailed hawks are predators for small fawns, too. So it is also possible that this particular doe has a strong dislike for the species out of instinct and/or past experience.
Many times, however, we humans don’t give our wild mammalian relatives enough credit. The friendships in Disney’s Bambi are, after all, based on early observations from naturalists of deer, rabbits, skunks, and other species living in a complex but serene harmony.
Whatever the case may be, Nordic Mountain’s capture is a brilliant display of animal behavior. What a wild world.