Hawk's reign ends in the reading room

The rescue team - from left, Kennon Smith, a federally licensed raptor bander; Linda Moore, vice President of the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia; and Craig Koppie, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - with the wayward female Cooper's hawk.
The rescue team - from left, Kennon Smith, a federally licensed raptor bander; Linda Moore, vice President of the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia; and Craig Koppie, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - with the wayward female Cooper's hawk. (Abby Brack)
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By Elizabeth Flock
Thursday, January 27, 2011

A female Cooper's hawk that spent a week trapped in the Library of Congress was safely captured Wednesday and taken to a rehabilitation center in Virginia.

The hawk caught the public's imagination as it eluded would-be rescuers and swooped over researchers' heads in the dome of the Thomas Jefferson Building's Main Reading Room. It even snatched frozen quail from a trap without being caught.

The hawk probably flew in through a broken window Jan. 19, said Matt Raymond, the library's director of communications.

At 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, a three-member team led by representatives of the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia captured the bird using a caged pair of starlings, named Frick and Frack, as bait. It took 25 minutes.

While the hawk was in the library, it cultivated an audience that tracked its antics closely. Library staff members frequently visited the reading room to check up on the bird; one regularly brought binoculars to view it up close.

The library offered regular status updates on its blog and Facebook pages. Twitter users posted and reposted news and suggested names.

Research librarians affectionately dubbed the hawk "Shirley," referring to Raymond's blogged recycling of a famous line ("And don't call me Shirley") from the 1980 movie "Airplane!" In a user poll, Washington Post readers suggested "Jefferson."

Bird experts from across the nation offered their help. Some worried that the hawk would die. The hawk was captured weighing 424 grams and was called "emaciated" by conservancy Vice President Linda Moore. The bird was taken to the conservancy in Falls Church.

After it is restored to health, the hawk will be released into the wild, far from the Library of Congress, Moore said.

elizabeth.flock@wpost.com


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