Hawk’s reign ends in the reading room of the Library of Congress

A juvenile female Cooper’s hawk is shown in the Main Reading Room in the Jefferson Building at the Library of Congress in Washington. A researcher spotted the hawk on Wednesday and a representative from the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia was on site at

WASHINGTON — 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 captured the public’s imagination as she eluded would-be rescuers and swooped over researchers’ heads in the dome of the Thomas Jefferson Building’s Main Reading Room. She 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 Center of Virginia captured the bird using a caged pair of starlings, named Frick and Frack, as bait. It took 25 minutes.

While she was in the library, the hawk cultivated an audience that tracked her antics closely. Library staff members frequently visited the reading room to check up on her; one regularly brought binoculars to view her 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 her “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 she 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 she is restored to health, the hawk will be released into the wild, far from the Library of Congress, Moore said.