Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hawk Rescued from the Library

Some of you may have heard that a Cooper's Hawk has been trapped for several days within the Library of Congress Jefferson Building. (For those who are not familiar with the library's layout, the Jefferson Building is the main library building with the domed reading room.) Apparently the hawk flew in while chasing after birds and took up a roost in the main reading room. While it managed to get in, it was unable to find its way out. So yesterday, staff from the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia captured the hawk and removed it from the library.

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....
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.
According to the post, the trapped raptor was a female, but it weighed only 424 grams. That is very light for a female Cooper's Hawk. Most females weigh between 500 and 600 grams, sometimes even more than that. This is clearly a very hungry bird. In addition to losing significant weight, the bird was also somewhat dehydrated, but it was otherwise healthy and sustained no injuries during its time in the library. After some time for rehabilitation, the hawk will be returned to the wild.