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 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.
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.