Although freshman journalism major Levina Ramchandani isn't Catholic, she knows birds aren't usually a part of Mass.
So when she walked into Memorial Chapel Sunday for morning services and saw a hawk perched on the rafters overhead, Ramchandani immediately knew something was up.
"I actually thought it was quite an interesting addition," she said. "It made mass a little different today."
The endangered red-tail hawk crashed through a window Saturday and has been residing in the Chapel since, said senior communications major Taylor Atkinson. Atkinson is an event planner for the Chapel who found the hawk while setting up for a wedding.
"Some people came in a little before 10 a.m. to help me - they were guests - and they asked me, 'What's going on with that bird over there?' And I didn't know what they were talking about, but he was just perched on a pew," Atkinson said.
"It had nose-dived through the lower glass pane of one of the windows there, and he was just chilling."
Although Atkinson attempted to have the bird removed from the Chapel before the wedding started Saturday, neither employees from building security or pest control knew exactly what to do, she said.
"We just opened the doors and windows, but he seemed fazed and injured," Atkinson said. "We needed to start the wedding, so they had a hawk watch the entire wedding."
In fact, the hawk was a hit among the wedding party and guests, Atkinson said.
"He just kinda hung out," she said. "The guests thought it was funny; the bride thought it was hilarious. People just want to take pictures of it - more of the bird than of the bride."
When the wedding was over, Atkinson learned from pest control the bird could not be removed because it was federally protected, and university workers would need a permit to remove it. Instead, state employees are coming today to remove the hawk, Atkinson said.
A North American migratory bird noted for its rusty red tail, the hawk - a Buteo jamaicensis - is federally protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. Individuals in the United States, Mexico, Canada, Japan and Russia are not allowed to pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill or sell any of the 800 birds protected by the act.
Even with the wedding over, the day wasn't done - a memorial service was planned later in the day for Vagn Flyger, a retired wildlife biologist and professor in the Animal and Avian Sciences department of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Flyger died Jan. 9.
While Atkinson thought the serious tone of the memorial service would be ruined by the presence of the hawk, the guests were overjoyed, she said.
"He was an avid bird watcher, and the guests were all thrilled," Atkinson said. "They all said Flyger was there; it was him in spirit, and everyone loved having [the hawk] there."
For Ramchandani and other students attending Catholic services at the Chapel Sunday, the additional guest provided an amusing experience.
"People were still paying attention," she said. "They acknowledged the bird, but they were there for a purpose. For the most part we were just amused by it in the beginning, but other than that, life went on."
Captivating as it was, the bird did not cause any major problems during services, junior biology major Elizabeth Yanik said.
"People were excited before Mass started just because all of a sudden it was there, but after that it wasn't too much of a disturbance," she said.
But according to the Rev. Bill Byrne of the Catholic Student Center, the hawk's reluctance to leave the Chapel is a deeper sign of faith, he said.
"The bird did attend Mass, so you can just let everyone know it is more than likely that it is a Catholic bird," he joked.
Contact reporter Roxana Hadadi at email@example.com.