Evan Thompson / The Record — The sharp-shinned hawk perched itself near the produce section inside The Goose for several hours on Wednesday.

Hawk in grocery store swoops over shoppers, scares employees

A sharp-shinned hawk made a Whidbey Island grocery store its home for about 12 hours on March 15.

The bird flew into The Goose at about 10:15 a.m. and spent the rest of the day swooping over customers’ heads and sitting perched on aisle signs and other locales around the store.

“There’s never a dull moment at The Goose,” said assistant store manager Belinda Permenter.

The bird, a male adult, was eventually captured at about 10:30 p.m. by Steve Layman, a South Whidbey falconer.

Layman said the sharp-shinned hawk, which is fairly common on Whidbey Island, was likely hunting a small bird such as an English sparrow and chased it inside the grocery store. He released the bird back to the wild the following morning.

Layman said he’s had plenty of experience capturing birds in public settings.

“That’s not the first time I’ve done stuff like that,” said Layman, who also assisted in a project that used raptors to scare away smaller birds from a five-star restaurant in George, and has captured birds in big-box stores like Walmart.

Staff at The Goose contacted state Fish and Wildlife, which recommended the store turn off its lights to direct the bird toward the main door and outside, said produce employee Jesia DiMesio. When that didn’t work, the store turned its lights back on and went back to business as usual.

Layman recommended store workers wait until all the customers had left after closing at 10 p.m. before making a move. Once inside, Layman said it appeared the bird had collided with the store’s windows.

“He was panicked a little bit,” Layman said. “But the ceilings are high enough. He was perched over by the produce section.”

To catch the hawk, Layman turned the lights off again, donned a helmet with a head lamp and grabbed a tactical strobe flashlight.

The flashing has a calming effect on birds, he explained.

“It calms them down enough where I can reach out and grab them,” Layman said.

Layman climbed an A-frame ladder to meet face-to-face with the hawk and in a flurry of quick motion, he successfully captured it.

He did not leave the encounter unscathed — the hawk’s talons punctured parts of his hand.

Layman took the bird home and kept it in a dark setting.

The following morning, he examined it for signs of a concussion, found none, and released it.

Sharp-shinned hawks typically hunt sparrows, which often hang around store entrances, Layman said.

Evan Thompson / The Record — A sharp-shinned hawk sits atop a grocery aisle at The Goose on Wednesday. The small hawk spent 12 hours in the store before being captured and later released by falconer Steve Layman.

Evan Thompson / The Record — Falconer Steve Layman donned a headlamp and used a tactical strobing flashlight to successfully captured the sharp-shinned hawk Wednesday night inside The Goose.

More in Life

Grief in the middle of the ocean

Chris Jordan’s film shows the plight of man through the eyes of albatross

WhidbeyCon draws fans of magical, monstrous

The magical, mythical, super and monstrous converged in one, free and family-friendly… Continue reading

Easter events on Whidbey

Wednesday, April 17 • Office of Tenebrae, 7 p.m., April 17, St.… Continue reading

Photos by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News Group<em></em>
                                <em>Yu Williams, left, and Polly Schweer pose on the mounds of plastic that they bundle to get ready for hauling from Freeland’s Island Recycling. “They are the miracle workers of this place,” says owner Jill Campbell. </em>
Recycling cumbersome, but as necessary as ever

Confused about plastic, glass, paper? Ask questions at transfer stations

Farmers markets open for season

Vendors and visitors braved wind and rain Saturday as Coupeville launched the… Continue reading

The ocean under a microscope: Carla Stehr merges art and science

From Carla Stehr’s viewpoint, the ocean is very small. Tiny. Microscopic, in… Continue reading

Family brings flowers to Greenbank Farm

Greenbank Farm, currently known for its retail stores, pies and dog park,… Continue reading

Whidbey Has Talent show allows students to shine

Whidbey Has Talent and isn’t afraid to show it. For a third… Continue reading

Foibles and fun of love shine in Whidbey Playhouse ‘She Loves Me’

All the high notes of romance hit by talented cast

Hazel Williams
Whidbey woman celebrates 103rd birthday

It was no April fools joke. Hazel Williams turned 103 years old… Continue reading

Volunteers get jump on improving trails

By Ron Newberry for the Whidbey News-Times It may be a year… Continue reading

Museum offers free tickets to Health Homes clients

Stephanie Ashcroft’s clients sometimes have a hard time getting out and doing… Continue reading