Hawk Trapped in Library of Congress Captured; Full Recovery Expected

Photo by Abby Brack/Library of Congress

This morning a rescue team captured the Cooper’s hawk that’s been circling the dome in the Library of Congress Main Reading Room for the last week. The juvenile female, which was likely born in April or May, was dehydrated and had lost some weight, but she’s expected to be released after a few days of rehab, Library of Congress spokesperson Sheryl Cannady says.

Starlings did the trick. Two U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staffers and a member of the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia placed a cage containing two starlings out this morning.

At about 8:30, the birds—named Frick and Frack—proved to be too enticing to ignore, and the raptor descended to take the bait. Her talons become entangled in a nylon mist net covering the cage and rescuers were able to catch hold of her and put her in a cardboard transport box. There was no significant feather damage, Cannady says. From setup to capture, the entire event only took about 25 minutes.

Cooper's hawks prey on starlings in the wild, Audubon's Ted Williams explains: "They will pounce catlike from high ambush sites on birds as big as starlings and doves, then ride them around the ground, blue-gray wings spread possessively, red eyes flashing."

The bird was first noticed on January 19. Officials still aren’t certain how she got in—there may have been a broken window somewhere. She did eat at least once, swooping in to snatch frozen quail from one of the traps the rescue team set.

The hawk has made national headlines, and visitation at the Library of Congress saw an uptick as people filed in to catch sight of the magnificent creature. “I got to see her yesterday! She's great and it's fun to hear her calling in the library,” one lucky viewer wrote on the National Audubon Society’s Facebook page.

Concerns about the hawk’s health grew as she evaded capture day after day. Luckily, says Cannady, “The story had a happy ending.”

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