© 2024 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

If You Want To Find The Millennium Falcon, Just Head To The National Cathedral


For the last six months, a red-tailed hawk has made its home in a tower of the Washington National Cathedral. And now it officially has a name.



(Laughter) That's right. The hawk is named Millennium Falcon. The cathedral held a contest, and the top pick was the name of Han Solo's ship from "Star Wars."

SHAPIRO: Now, this is the moment that all the ornithologists listening go on Twitter and tell us that a hawk is not the same thing as a falcon.

KEVIN ECKSTROM: We know that there is a distinction between a falcon and a hawk.

SHAPIRO: That's Kevin Eckstrom, the cathedral's spokesperson. He says the misnomer is acceptable considering some of the other options.

ECKSTROM: One of the alternative names that people wanted was Birdy McBirdface (ph) or Hawky McHawkface (ph). And we thought that was a step too far. So we're going to go with a falcon that's actually a hawk.

CHANG: He's referring of course to the infamous naming contest for a British research vessel which resulted in the christening of Boaty McBoatface.

SHAPIRO: This is actually not the first time the cathedral has found itself in a galaxy far, far away.

ECKSTROM: Back in 1986, there was a kids' contest as they were building the cathedral to create one of the gargoyles. And Darth Vader was one of the winners of that contest. So we have a Darth Vader gargoyle on the building. He's sort of our unofficial mascot, so we have this kind of association with "Star Wars."

CHANG: So now the cathedral has a Darth Vader on the dark side and Millennium Falcon on the light side. And Eckstrom says it's a fitting juxtaposition.

ECKSTROM: That's what we're all about - right? - forces of good versus forces of evil. We will ride the coattails of "Star Wars" and Darth Vader and now the Millennium Falcon as far as they can take us.

SHAPIRO: Eckstrom says the hawk seems happy enough just being a hawk, looking down on 56 acres of hunting grounds.

ECKSTROM: If you go up into the upper reaches of the cathedral, you'll find any number of dead birds, which have clearly been eaten to the bone. And I know that we're not doing it. (Laughter) And there's no other animal up there.

CHANG: Millennium Falcon declined to comment. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.