Hawk Inadvertently Trapped in Providence Arcade
© 2020 Peter Green. All rights reserved.

Hawk Inadvertently Trapped in Providence Arcade

The hawk is free now, so hopefully this information will be useful to someone dealing with a similar situation in the future.

A juvenile Cooper’s Hawk was inadvertently trapped inside The Arcade last week. Nobody saw it enter, but it’s assumed to have chased a pigeon through an open door on an upper level, and found some nice perches up high along the ceiling of the indoor mall. It was there when staff arrived in the morning. They called me and I went over with my rescue net, but it was way too high to reach. The net isn’t used for catching a healthy hawk in flight – it’s only for trapping animals that are injured and nearly immobile.

I spoke to a few experts and we agreed that, unfortunately, the building staff might have to wait until the hawk was hungry and weak enough to come down and be caught, and then taken to the Wildlife Clinic for some food and fluids. I left my net and carrier with the staff.

From arcadeprovidence.com:

Located in the center of downtown Providence, Rhode Island, The Arcade Providence was built in 1828 and it is the oldest indoor mall in the United States. After an extensive renovation, it is now home to 48 micro-loft apartments on the upper two floors, with a first floor of small business retail, including a full service local foods restaurant, a coffee shop/whiskey bar, casual dining, and several unique retail shops.

Here’s a photo from their website that shows just how long and open it is – plenty of empty space for a hawk to fly around…

…and many places for a hawk to perch:

© 2020 Peter Green. All rights reserved.
© 2020 Peter Green. All rights reserved.
© 2020 Peter Green. All rights reserved.
© 2020 Peter Green. All rights reserved.
© 2020 Peter Green. All rights reserved.

Here’s video of the hawk flying the full length of The Arcade:

Back home, I looked through “Urban Raptors: Ecology and Conservation of Birds of Prey in Cities“, remembering a chapter about rescue and rehabilitation. I sent the staff the information below for some more ideas.

In the evening they turned down the lights, covered all the windows, and illuminated the exit door. The next morning the hawk was gone. Just as nobody saw it enter, nobody saw it leave – Cooper’s Hawks are notoriously stealthy.

Please feel free to save and share this information, and also buy a copy of “Urban Raptors: Ecology and Conservation of Birds of Prey in Cities“:

INADVERTENTLY TRAPPED RAPTORS: In multiple urban areas, raptors inadvertently found their way into warehouses and ended up perching on rafters. Concerned managers called urban biologists for help. Biologists explained that the most logical way the birds entered the warehouses was by way of large retractable doors. Though it was not certain, the trapped raptors had likely been pursuing prey near one of the large doors, and the momentum of the chase had carried them indoors. Depending on the species, the raptors probably had been pursuing small mammals, sparrows, or insects. Suspecting this, biologists then coached the managers on ways to reverse the process so that the raptors would remove themselves. The specific details varied depending on the facility, but the overall approach was consistent: draw the bird’s attention to a nearby retractable door and entice it to fly through to the outdoors.

To create prey activity in the opening, workers scattered bird seed in the doorway and immediately outside it. Once the doorway was baited, human traffic through that door was minimized. For a diurnal raptor that hunts birds, the sparrows feeding on birdseed in the doorway often proved irresistible, and the first dive carried the raptor out through the door. Once the bird was out, managers cleaned up the seed to reduce the chance of accidental reentry. If the trapped raptor was nocturnal or typically pursued small mammals, biologists recommended waiting until evening to make the conditions most conducive for the bird to leave. In these cases, workers baited the doorway and minimized human traffic as before but also dimmed or turned off the lights in the warehouse and turned on the lights around the nearest retractable door within view of the raptor. The combination of lighting accentuating the door and possible small mammals feeding on the bird seed most often resulted in the raptor flying through that doorway to freedom.

If, however, the bird did not exit, a “bait mouse” was sometimes used. Facility staff set up conditions as before and placed a bait mouse (“feeder” mouse purchased from a pet store) in a small, clear container in the doorway. The trapped raptor was attracted to the bait mouse in the doorway, dove at it, and continued out through the door.

This all reminded me of reports of a Cooper’s Hawk trapped inside the Library of Congress in 2011.

It also reminded me of a story I often tell during my presentations about urban raptors… I once received an email from an employee at a large department store. He said a Cooper’s Hawk decided to live inside their store and they gave it a name and were very happy to see it every day. About a week later, the hawk was found dead and the heartbroken staff wondered why…? Without more information, my best guess was the hawk sadly starved to death. Without a food source or means of escape, it slowly perished.

So, if you’re in a similar situation, please try and get the hawk free – don’t panic, it won’t starve in a day or two, but please help get it free as soon as possible.

UPDATE: This may be the same individual Cooper’s Hawk that was trapped in The Arcade – It’s great to see it free!

© 2020 Peter Green. All rights reserved.


  1. kathleen
    Posted 7 Jan ’20 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    Great photos and great story with a happy ending. Bird looks incredibly handsome in that setting. Nice to have it pay a visit with no apparent ill-effects on anybody. I use the same trick to get bees out of my apartment at night — open windows, turn off lights, except the porch light, One time I had a small bat in the apartment (where I live, in Italy, the bats are never rabid) and when I called the police, they told me to do the same. Glad it all worked out. Ciao!

  2. Tracy
    Posted 10 Mar ’20 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Oooh! I just had one of these perched outside of my living room, right by Swan Point Cemetery. I identified it through your photographs – thanks so much! What a spectacular bird.

    • Peter Green
      Posted 10 Mar ’20 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      Great to hear, thanks :)

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