Time for Another Hawk Update

(Previous posts from last week are here and here.)

The hawk is still in the Main Reading Room. The rescue team found a trap that she was attracted to (which is good news for humane capture); however, the hawk had swooped in and took just enough of the bait late Sunday afternoon and was able to avoid capture. This means that she is now fed and will most likely not be ready to eat again until Tuesday. The trap has been adjusted and is ready to be baited again on Tuesday. The team now believes that the hawk has a predilection for frozen quail and not live bait.

As a secondary measure, they also pulled a mesh tightly across the opening to the dome (which they call the “lantern”) so that she cannot descend into the Main Reading Room, and this would also catch her in the event that she were to fall.

The team has also included members from the Washington Humane Society, and they are in agreement with the process and procedures being used for the capture. They do not perceive the hawk is in any imminent danger from stress.


  1. Theresa Metz
    January 24, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    How about Dewey for the name of the hawk?

  2. Rex Moneymaker
    January 24, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Until she’s released I couldn’t ask for better hands to help!

  3. Fran Cella
    January 24, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    thank you for the update!

  4. Jackie
    January 24, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    I’m guessing she would like fresh quail even better.

  5. Gerry
    January 24, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    A Cooper-cam??

  6. Ron Frazier
    January 24, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    The bird is the word at the Library of Congress.

    And that word is . . . DUCK!

    : ) Ron Frazier

  7. jesse fulton
    January 24, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    open the doors and wait for summer

  8. Denise
    January 24, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    Thanks for the update. She’s one smart bird. Maybe she’s waiting for RDA to come out before she’s ready to leave. :-)

  9. Sally Paolantonio
    January 24, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    This has been such a good story. Is she still Shirley or can I put in a vote for “Alice Cooper”? When she is caught, I assume she will be checked by a veteranarian. Will they be able to tag her to follow her travels?

  10. Steve
    January 24, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    I think the “hole” at the top of the dome, into the lantern would be called an oculus.

  11. Mel
    January 24, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    May the rest of our government learn from the compassion you have shown for this creature of nature.

  12. Patricia Wolf
    January 24, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    I’m glad the hawk is still doing well. I hope that you can catch it and find it a good home. They are such neat birds

  13. Al Cecere, American Eagle Foundation
    January 24, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    We do not know for certain whether the Cooper’s Hawk was “fat” or “thin/sharp in the keel” when it entered the Library of Congress, and we do not know whether it had eaten well before it came into the building.

    However, we do know that the bird had probably not eaten since it came into the building last Wed, Jan. 19 (until today, Monday, Jan. 24).

    Since the bird was first seen in the building last Wed, it has now been 5 days, as of Monday morning, that we can assume it had not likely eaten anything (unless there were some other live birds or dead birds inside the dome area that had also recently entered the Library through an open window).

    Cooper’s hawks are medium sized hawks that burn energy quickly. So, there was a looming danger that the bird could possibly die after about a week or so in the building (with no food), especially if it continued to fly frantically around the inside the dome of the building (burning up energy).

    The bird was most likely to be caught in a trap while in a hungry state, rather than with a full “crop” of food. It is not likely to come near the traps that have been set when not in a hungry state.

    Since Washington, D.C. may have a good population of Pigeons and perhaps starlings too, it is likely that the bird could have found some easy prey before entering the Library, even with the recent snow storms.

    Cooper’s hawks eat birds, especially smaller ones like robins, jays, woodpeckers, starlings, quail, and doves.

    I heard a report today that the bird had found a way to rob some of the quail bait from one of the traps placed in the dome area without actually being caught in the trap. If this is true, at least we know it wont die of starvation at this point.

    We do not want to second guess what the people from Virginia Raptor Conservancy (and their team) are doing to quickly capture the bird in the safest manner possible, because we are not on-site and cannot fully know or comprehend the full scope of the situation and what is being done. They are certainly doing the best they can.

    Typically, rehab groups are not much involved in trapping birds or banding them, but I would guess that there are some qualified falconers also advising the Raptor Conservancy team – who do have significant experience trapping birds. There’s no doubt that the Raptor Conservancy has substantial experience rehabilitating injured birds of prey and caring for them (for eventual release into the wild).

    The American Eagle Foundation has reached out and offered its assistance to the both the Library of Congress and the North Virginia Raptor Conservancy. We have a seasoned master falconer on staff who has much experience trapping Cooper’s Hawks.

    We are hopeful there will be a happy ending to this hawk drama.

    But let’s hope that we don’t end up with a scenerio where the “hawk” goes after a “dove”, for this may stir up a huge debate in the halls of Congress.

    Al Cecere

  14. Shira Israel-Levin
    January 24, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    I am glad that what has been done so far has
    been done. So that the female Cooper’s Hawk
    won’t be stressed. Interesting that she’s not
    interested in live food but has the taste for the
    frozen Quail instead. Let’s hope that she’ll be
    returned to the wild soon.

  15. Sheila Wexler
    January 24, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    Cooper’s hawks are sometimes used in falconry. Because this raptor does not seem panicked in the presence of humans, knows how to avoid traps, and prefers frozen prey, the bird may have been trained for falconry (how it got into the LOC reading room is another story). A falconer might be able to lure it down with a whistle, swinging lure, and gloved hand.

  16. Janet
    January 25, 2011 at 3:08 am

    To think that the hawk would “fall” is the funniest thing I’ve ever heard. That’s like saying a fish might drown.

    Not sure of the dome architecture, but how about opening a window and letting her free rather than trying to capture her? If feasible, put her favorite food near the open window, she’ll be sure to find it and fly free.

  17. Paula Bohaska
    January 25, 2011 at 8:23 am

    I am curious as to why the team is not using a bal chatri trap with a mouse, or pigeon, bait. The monofilament loops outside the traps will tangle the feet of the bird if it attempts to take the prey. Someone with experience can then carefully untangle the bird and release it. From your narrative, the bird has succesfully come in after bait and removed it, which would be impossible with a bal chatri. Just curious as to the approach being used.

  18. Julie in DC
    January 25, 2011 at 8:30 am

    Well, it is Tuesday, and I hope ‘Shirley’ (such a funny reference) dives into the bait so she can be safely released.

    You could keep the puns coming for quite a while.

    Is there a display in the Library for the kids (and curious adults) to see, yet?

    This could become a touch-screen, interactive display for future visitors!

    Seriously, I surely enjoy smiling from your witty comments.

  19. claire silvers
    January 25, 2011 at 8:39 am

    Thank you for the updates. Its very heartening to hear that such knowledgeable care is being taken to respond to this creature.

  20. Jim Baseman
    January 25, 2011 at 8:59 am

    There is a simple and easy way to get the hawk to fly out (if its not too weak already). If the room it is in can be made dark, ie no sunlight from windows and all lights out, the hawk will fly to sunlight through an open door. If the room cannot be darkened then you’ll have to wait until after sunset. After dark open the front door and place a light just outside the entrance. The hawk will fly to the light and freedom. I’ve used this numerous times to get birds out of my house (they fly or fall down the chimney and find their way in through the woodstove or furnace pipes. It works, trust me. Good luck,


  21. Kestrel Info Services
    January 25, 2011 at 9:28 am

    As an information service named for a hawk and serving the library profession, we can only envy a sister hawk that has the (temporary) freedom to keep warm and fed while roaming one of the world’s great libraries. Look after her well!

  22. judy in stafford
    January 25, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    how about “LIBBY” for the hawk’s name? sort of a play on library… anyway, hope she makes it out safe ‘n sound :)

  23. Melanie Lynch
    January 25, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Dewey is probably not the best name for the hawk since the LOC doesn’t use the Dewey Decimal System – they use their own LOC system of categorizing books.

  24. Kirk Garanflo
    January 25, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    To help the hawk escape, darken the entire room except for a passageway leading out of the room. It, or any bird for that matter, will fly toward the light.

    Repeat the process until finally a passageway leads out of the building.

  25. Ronna Sommers
    January 25, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    Wonderful….glad to know she’s getting food…lucky bird..out of the weather..

  26. Charlie Ipcar
    January 26, 2011 at 7:58 am

    While we’re waiting for another update, here’s a verse about a quail from my mother’s children book I Love My Anteater with an A:

    “I love my quail with a Q because he is quiet.
    I have him with a Q because he is quarrelsome.
    His name is Quincy. He comes from Quebec.
    He lives on quahogs and quinces,
    And he is quite a quilter.

    Charlie Ipcar

  27. Kathleen Poston
    January 26, 2011 at 9:05 am

    I am slightly surprised that no one has yet suggested calling your lovely visitor simply “Kitty Hawk”, in honor of the relatively recent aniversary.

    Must say that this thread has been amusing and intelligent and a lovely change from most of the garbage I find out there in discussion rooms and chats.

    I wish you and her the best in your upcoming “catch and release” efforts!

  28. Megan B.
    January 26, 2011 at 9:15 am

    7 years ago I volunteered for a raptor rehab and refuge in NY state. Our Cooper Hawk ended up nabbing and eating one of the Sawwhet owls in the cage next door. Other than that, he was a very good tenant.

    I hope that her, um, output isn’t falling on the books, and that she’ll be caught and returned to the outdoors in due time.

  29. Eddie
    January 26, 2011 at 9:23 am

    I appreciate the updates… Keep up your stellar work!

  30. Desiree
    January 26, 2011 at 9:32 am

    Call someone at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – they’ve got the best bird experts in the country and they’re a few blocks away. Or, call some folks from the National Audubon Society – they’re also a couple blocks away.

  31. Lesli
    January 26, 2011 at 11:03 am

    You got scooped by the Washington Post! The hawk has been rescued. Yay!

  32. Kim
    January 26, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    I’m so glad she was caught. I was recently involved in having to capture a Peregrine Falcon. Making and baiting the trap, and then waiting, can be intense. I’m so glad that this one went to the trap so quickly.

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