BREAKING NEWS: Hawk Rescued from Main Reading Room

Linda Moore, Vice President of the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia, holds the Cooper’s hawk that was rescued around 8:30 a.m., Jan. 26, from the Library of Congress. (Library of Congress Photo/ Abby Brack)

A hawk that became trapped about a week ago in the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress’s Jefferson Building has been safely captured.  I will update this post a little later with details and images (and possibly video).

UPDATE, noon EST: Mark Hartsell, editor of the Library’s weekly staff newsletter, The Gazette, provided this firsthand report of the happy ending:

The hawk that took up an unauthorized residence in the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress, eluding captors and delighting a nationwide online audience for a week, finally got evicted.

The juvenile, female raptor was apprehended early Wednesday morning by a three-person team and sent to a stint in rehab with the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia.

Here’s how they got their bird:

The team put a pair of starlings – Frick and Frack, according to their owner – in a trap on a ledge inside the dome and waited, hidden beneath a tarp.

The Cooper's hawk that has been at the Library of Congress for at least one week was caught today around 8:30 a.m. In this photo, Kennon Smith (right), a federally licensed raptor bander who volunteers with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, shows the trap that was used, containing two European starlings to bait and rescue the hawk. (Library of Congress Photo/Abby Brack)

The starlings saw the hawk poised nearby and froze. But the noise of a truck passing by the Jefferson Building startled the pair and caused them to move.

The motion drew the attention of the hawk: She immediately flew onto the trap, where its talons entangled in the nylon nooses attached to the top of the wire cage.

The team grabbed the hawk, weighed and banded the bird, then placed it in a covered cardboard carrying box.  It will be banded later today.

The capture occurred about 8:30 a.m., and the process took about 25 minutes from setup to completion, according to Craig Koppie, an eagle and raptor biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The bird is in good health and had no significant feather damage, said Kennon Smith, a federally licensed raptor bander who volunteers with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and assisted in the capture.  Team members also said the room’s large rotunda likely proved less injurious to a circling hawk than a smaller, more angular space would have.

In this photo, Kennon Smith, a federally licensed raptor bander who volunteers with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Linda Moore, Vice President of the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia, place the hawk into a box to transport it to a rehab center associated with the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia. (Library of Congress photo/Abby Brack)

Smith said the bird was somewhat dehydrated and had lost weight over the course of his week in the Main Reading Room.

The hawk weighed 424 grams – some 80 to 220 grams less than a bird its age and size would weigh, Smith said. The team guessed the hawk was born in April or May 2010.

Another team member, Linda Moore, a vice president at the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia, removed the hawk from the Library for a short stint in rehab until it has completely recovered.

Afterward, the Cooper’s hawk will be released into the wild – somewhere, Moore said, far, far away from its former home in the dome of the Thomas Jefferson Building at the Library of Congress.


  1. Fran Cella
    January 26, 2011 at 11:39 am


  2. Susan Tsiouris
    January 26, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    Happy to hear your hawk has been rescued. I never realized hawks were so scholarly.
    We had a hawk at our library on January 17.
    Pictures of our “Library Hawk”:

    Susan Tsiouris
    Reference Librarian
    Wolfgram Memorial Library
    Widener University
    Chester, PA

  3. Harry
    January 26, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Glad the bird’s okay!

  4. Carol B
    January 26, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    I will miss hearing what Cooper is up to.
    Glad he was able to get ot safely.

  5. Deci Worland
    January 26, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    I’m so glad!

  6. Luisa
    January 26, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Great news! Although, it was fun to read about the exploits of the literary hawk.

  7. HS_Librarian
    January 26, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Whew! To a safe rescue with no starlings, librarians or materials being injured.

  8. Janet
    January 26, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    That is such good news.

  9. deowll
    January 26, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Good news indeed!

    I’m a little surprised at the pictures of a person handling the bird bare handed as this is an excellent way to bleed profusely. This hawk has a very sharp beak meant to rend flesh and sharp talons meant to pierce flesh and you don’t want to feel either of them in your flesh.

  10. Nell Kozak
    January 26, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    How are the starlings?

  11. Reiner Gogolin
    January 26, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    …where she will live happily ever after…(or be back instanteanously, because I saw a similar bird [maybe her] sitting outside the Adams Bldg. eating after beak-diving intothe bushes

  12. Denise
    January 26, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Job well done to all at LoC and Raptor Conservancy. Will miss her but much safer for the hawk to go back to wild after rehab. Yeah!

  13. Melanie Lynch
    January 26, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    Although I don’t suggest it for someone not experienced in handling hawks (I help band ospreys), some raptors can become surprisingly docile when being handled. Note she has a grasp on its legs well above the talons and also has no body parts within striking distance of that beak. Now owls and eagles . . .

  14. jezy
    January 26, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    Starlings: hey now, is that a hawk? Crap, I didnt sign up for this!!

  15. Heidi
    January 26, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    GREAT!!!! Great story!! TRUTH is stranger then fiction, eh?

  16. Owlbear
    January 26, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    Good job! In ancient Rome this would have been an omen of some sort.

  17. DRandle
    January 26, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    So glad to hear that the hawk was capture safely! Heard Brian Williams report on the situation on the NBC Nightly News yesterday. Hope he runs an update today!

  18. Max
    January 26, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    Has Homeland Security figured out how the hawk gained unauthorized access to the Library? Congressional hearings now!

  19. TJPleines
    January 26, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    So very glad the Cooper’s hawk has been safely removed. It’s a beautiful bird. Hope it takes up another hobby – other than reading that is.

  20. stormkite
    January 26, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Yay! Good job, everyone.

    Do hope Ms. Hawk didn’t have time to study up on lockpicking…

  21. Patricia Wolf
    January 26, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    I am glad to hear it was caught safe and sound.

  22. Jabev
    January 26, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Just read the story about the Cooper’s Hawk at LoC. Loved both the original story and the update. Thanks for the detailed info about her sojourn inside the Main Reading Room, her condition, and how she was captured. Also great to know the Raptor Conservancy will rehab then release the hawk back into the wild.

    Strange how raptors can adapt to urban life–but there’s a plentiful supply of prey (starlings, pigeons, sparrows…even squirrels), so why should we be surprised?!

  23. dodie
    January 26, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    I am very much relieved. that she has been rescued and released. I was worried about the poor hawk having no food and water for a whole week!

  24. sue
    January 26, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    Congratulations on the happy resolution!

  25. Al Cecere
    January 26, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    Congratulations to Linda Moore, Craig Koppie, the US Fish & Wildlife Service, Raptor Conservancy of Nothern Virgina, the Library of Congress, and all others involved in safely capturing the Cooper’s Hawk. This was the right approach to capture the bird and a job well done.
    May the hawk live long and prosper!!

    Al Cecere, American Eagle Foundation.

  26. Anne Weadon
    January 26, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    Hooray! But I will miss googling our guest and sending updates to friends and family. I hope there will be a nice photo in the gift shop!

  27. Emma
    January 26, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    This story has been followed over in Australia as well. Our preventative conservation officer has to deal with pigeons and starlings in our museum on a regular basis. She was relieved that a hawk has not been one of her “customers” but has loved following the story via the blog.

  28. Edgardo Berraz
    January 26, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Good. Very good. I love hear about saving any representatives of natural wildlife. Congratulation all the library members, overall to that beauty lady, that seem to me be very happy with the rescue.

  29. Kristin Harley
    January 26, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    So glad to learn that the magnificent creature is all right. Well, since there’s already a cat named Dewey, what shall we name her? Sandy Berman? It seems appropriate.

  30. Kristin Harley
    January 26, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    I unfortunately cannot think of any female names.

  31. Shira Israel-Levin
    January 26, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    Hurray! I am so glad the Cooper’s Hawk has been rescued. That she’ll spend time at rehab till she’s recovered and is fit. I’m sure the first thing done for her was to have been given water.

  32. Sheila Samson in Central Indy
    January 26, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    Coopers hawks are regular visitors at my bird feeder. (They are birds, after all!) I’ve been around them for years, but never realized how literary they are! Bravo!

  33. GK
    January 26, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    The cost of capturing the hawk in the library of congress.

    For the capture 200
    Testing for diseases 1500
    Relocation 400
    Vet Bills for dehydration 700
    Special Diet for rehabilitation 300
    Disinfection of Library 800
    Survey of how hawk entered library 50,000
    Hawk awareness program 100,000
    Study of hawk in the area 500,000
    Cost to hire crew to watch for more 300,000

    Total to capture hawk 953,000

  34. kmk
    January 26, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    Hawks generally don’t bite when being handled, but falcons will. She is correctly handling this Cooper’s Hawk by securing those lethal talons.

  35. Pete Marshall
    January 26, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    Well at least that’s one less hawk in Washington…..

  36. Charlie Ipcar
    January 27, 2011 at 8:55 am


    And I hope that “Frick and Frack”, the two starlings who were used as bait, got a special treat afterwards.

    Love a good story.

    Charlie Ipcar

  37. D
    January 27, 2011 at 10:52 am

    I am also happy that the hawk was captured and not out in yesterday’s storm. I live near the DC Convention Center and saw a hawk just like the one rescued in my backyard on Monday morning. Who should I contact if I see it again ?

  38. Marilyn Penner
    January 27, 2011 at 10:58 am

    Congratulations to all who helped capture the hawk – including the starlings!

  39. Phyllis Book
    January 27, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    “Kennon Smith, a federally licensed raptor bander who volunteers with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and assisted in the capture.”

    Congratulations to Kennon (and his starlings) for a job well done! If I ever have a hawk trapped in my house, I’ll know who to contact.

  40. Steve
    January 27, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    This makes me proud to be a contributor to the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia. I signed up after seeing them give a great presentation at Long Branch Nature Center in Arlington. Well done! And I’m glad that someone found a good use for starlings.

  41. pm foray
    January 27, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    A good ending to the saga.I ,however, had a much more patriotic conclusion.My wife sugested I omit as many would fail to appreciate my humor………I could possibly be coaxed to devulge…………

  42. Kathy Smith
    January 27, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    Thanks for all those who helped here. A good reminder of the importance to treat all creatures (including the human kind) with care and respect.

    Kennon Smith is my cousin. Will be proud to show him off to my kids!

  43. Suzanne
    January 28, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    So glad she was not injured. She is probably the happiest of all of us to be out!

  44. harini
    January 29, 2011 at 3:57 am

    Good!!!!!!!!! Great job. I am glad.

  45. mike
    January 29, 2011 at 9:31 am

    Maybe they could set her free in the home depot.. theres a ton of pigeons and sparrows in there she could take out.

  46. Jared
    February 3, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    I have always loved birds of prey. They probably aren’t adored by the starlings.

  47. Carolyn
    February 8, 2011 at 9:24 am

    I’m glad the hawk is ok. I have a pet starling and would not let him be used that way though, I wouldn’t want to terrorize him. I’m glad the starlings involved were not harmed and I hope they got over the trauma of being stalked. A hawk dove at some starlings on my deck last week and they came back after about an hour, so hopefully that means they get over it.

  48. David Crooks
    February 8, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Here is a link to a couple shots I got today when the bird was released at Sky Meadows:

  49. Faith
    February 15, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    But are the starlings OK?

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