Monday, October 7, 2013

Case Study No. 1033: Victoria Hill

live cooper's hawk in library of congress
cooper's hawk in library of congress
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Posted at 11:34 AM ET, 01/21/2011
Hawk in Library of Congress

What appears to be a Cooper's Hawk has taken shelter inside the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress.

First spotted Wednesday night, the bird of prey may have flown in through a broken window at the top of the Main Reading Room's 160-foot high dome, and it hasn't yet found its way out.

Reference librarians have furiously been looking through the library's collection of books on birds, including "Sibley's Guide to North American birds," to identify the bird and find a way to lure it down.

They've also been consulting their community of fans on the web. When asked how the library knows the bird is a Cooper's Hawk, a Library of Congress representative says, "We've been getting a lot of comments on our Facebook page and blog from people who seem to know what they are talking about."

"We've had birds fly in here before, but I don't think we've ever had a predator," the Library of Congress representative said. "We have to lure the bird out, but the problem the Cooper's Hawk likes their food to be on the hoof. I'm not sure we will release live pigeon or mouse in here."

The Fish and Wildlife Services will likely be tasked with getting the hawk out, though many area falconers have also offered their services.

UPDATE: 12:45 p.m.

The Cooper's hawk that took shelter in the Library of Congress Wednesday night has rebuffed all bird experts' efforts to get it down, a representative of the Library of Congress said today.

Specialists from the Raptor Conservancy of Northern Virginia placed baited cages in the Main Reading Room's dome, where the bird is circling, and strung a net on the bottom of the opening of the dome so the hawk can't swoop down and disturb researchers.

As a secondary measure, they also pulled 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 if she were to fall.

Since its arrival, the hawk has so captured the public's attention that the membership office of the library was packed this Saturday.

The Main Reading Room staff has affectionately dubbed the hawk "Shirley," after the Library of Congress blogger Matt Raymond made an "Airplane" reference to readers who doubted the bird's presence.

Our own contest to name the hawk came up with a plethora of clever monikers for the bird. The winning name so far? "Jefferson," because of Thomas Jefferson's contributions to the library.

A few of our commenters thought the bird's nom de plume should honor other architects of great libraries. Commenter "RobertMuskett" suggested the name "Demetrius Phalereus," because he was the "true founder of the Great Library in Ancient Alexandria."

Commenter "janmckelvey" suggested the name "Casey," after Thomas Lincoln Casey and his son Edward Pierce Casey, "who were the engineering/architect/interior design team responsible for completing the wonderful Thomas Jefferson Building."

Our commenter "AnneMiles1" suggested "Barry" in honor of the famous political "hawk" Barry Goldwater, and "poppopk" suggested "Deficit Hawk."

Until library officials can have the bird removed, our contest for what to call the hawk is ongoing. Tweet your suggestions to #namethehawk or leave them in the comments field below.



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.



Aired January 21, 2011 - 17:05 ET

BLITZER: A predator is lurking over the stacks at the Library of Congress here in Washington. We're going to show you what officials are doing to try to flush it out.


BLITZER: Here in Washington, a hawk spotted inside the Library of Congress. Yes, a hawk.

CNN's Brian Todd went to check it out -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we're here at the main reading room of the Library of Congress, where researchers have gotten an uninvited visitor. It's a hawk that has made its way somehow into the lantern area. That's that top of the dome inside there where that mural is.

This mural has just been restored. They've just restored some windows up there.

There is a Cooper's hawk that has been there for a couple of days now. Can't get a glimpse of it now, but we did get some video of it earlier.

And we're here with Victoria Hill. She's the acting chief of the Humanities and Social Sciences Division of the Library of Congress.

Victoria, do you know how the hawk got in here?

VICTORIA HILL, ACTING CHIEF, HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES DIVISION, LIBRARY OF Congress: We don't know how the hawk got in, but we assume that it got in through the outside roof that goes around the dome.

TODD: And what steps are you taking to try to catch it and get it out of here?

HILL: We've contacted a person from the Northern Virginia Raptor Conservancy, and she is here, she's up in the lantern. And she has set several traps to try to capture the bird.

TODD: And obviously researchers are still allowed to come in here and do their work. Any concern for their welfare and maybe the welfare of the bird as well?

HILL: We are taking the steps, and the conservator is paying attention, obviously, to the hawk to make sure that the hawk is OK. And the readers are fine. The hawk is staying up in the lantern.

TODD: You've been here for a while. Anything like this ever happen?

HILL: Twice before. We had a crow once, and we had a pigeon once. But having a hawk is really wonderful.

TODD: OK. Well, good luck in trying to safely get that bird out of here. Thank you, Victoria.

HILL: Thank you.

TODD: Wolf, the hawk has been here since at least Wednesday. That's when they first got a glimpse of the bird up in that lantern area. It has not left that area since then as far as we know. So it's been here since Wednesday.

They don't know exactly how long it's going to take to get the bird out of here. And they hope to obviously expedite that, get it out of here safely, as soon as possible -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Brian. Let's hope they do. Brian Todd over at the Library of Congress.

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