In one of the better videos on the internet this week, a hungry hawk gets in a fight with a defensive mother hen. The real dispute, however, unfolds between a guy who wants to rescue the drowning hawk and his heckling buddy who tells him — repeatedly and hilariously —to stay out of it.

The video begins mid-fight (between both birds and men) as a group of friends approach something struggling on the surface of a waterway in Yulee, Florida. The onlookers just watched the raptor try to pick off a duckling and run afoul of the mother duck. By the time the camera is rolling, the muscovy hen is thrashing the hawk and attempting to drown it.

“Travis, you let nature do its thing!” videographer Jason Davis shouts to his buddy, who is jogging toward the flapping birds. “Oh, the duck’s killing the hawk now! Travis, let nature do its thing! Travis! It came after the babies!”

“I know but we’ll let the hawk go,” replies the man, apparently named Travis, as he begins pulling off his socks and shoes, and rolling up his pants.

“No, we’re not gonna let the hawk go, the hawk’s gotta die. The hawk must die. Travis, the hawk was fighting the babies! The hawk’s already done dude. You’re literally— stop it Travis, the hawk’s a gonner.”

Close-up footage shows the hen pecking and attacking the stunned hawk’s head and neck as Davis cheers her on. “Kill it, duck! Do work, duck!”

By now, though, Travis has spooked the ducks and is able to gently grab the soggy red shouldered hawk.

“Travis is screwing up nature,” Davis narrates as Travis exits the water, raptor cradled in his hands. “Travis and I are not the same.”

A woman with the group offers to get Travis a pair of dry pants, to which Davis quips, “I’m not getting him pants because he just disrupted nature.”

Davis’ take is a good rule of thumb, and aligns with a cardinal rule increasingly emphasized by popular social media accounts like Nature Is Metal and Tourons of Yellowstone: Humans should resist interfering with nature, brutal though it may seem. There are clear examples where meddling with natural selection is inadvisable and, often, illegal. Consider the idiot who “rescued” a Yellowstone bison calf that got separated from its herd, but was later euthanized due to the man’s interference. Or the shirtless roid-rage black bear harasser who remains at large (we were rooting for the bear). At the end of the video, Davis even mentions the scene they just witnessed is straight out of his Instagram feed.

In this particular matchup, however, Travis is correcting previous human interference: the presence of the muscovy ducks and their ducklings in the first place. The duck is a domestic or feral Muscovy duck attempting to kill a native red-shouldered hawk. Raptors are federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and usually covered by additional state protections. (No exceptions for misguided Kentucky politicians with a soft spot for cats.) 

Granted, there are few details around this raptor rescue. For instance, we don’t know if the duck would have eventually killed the hawk, or if the hawk survived after its rescue, or whether Travis ever got his dry pants. But we can conclude that this clip was filmed in south Florida. (Davis is a professional dog trainer, and this clip is an outtake from a First Coast Ring Club trial, held just north of Jacksonville in mid February.) An established population of feral muscovy ducks exists in Florida, and domestic muscovy ducks, which were originally bred in Brazil, are often kept as livestock for their appetite for pest insects.

“Truly wild [muscovy ducks] are restricted to south Texas and points south, but domesticated versions occur in parks and farms across much of North America,” according to All About Birds. “Wild muscovy ducks are glossy black with bold white wing patches and are forest dwellers that nest in tree cavities. Their range expanded into Texas in the 1980s; feral populations also exist in Florida.”

Domestic muscovy hens can weigh up to 10 pounds. Adult red shouldered hawks max out at around 1.2 pounds. They’re also unaccustomed to fighting on land or water. So in this case, it’s safe to say Travis was safeguarding a native critter from an introduced species, in a state where non-native and invasive species are wrecking havoc.

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