The last British bird left at Wimbledon: Rufus the hawk who's employed to put pigeons in a flap


Hawk-eyed: Rufus starts eyeing up his surroundings as his owner Wayne Davis prepares him for duty

This is one Hawk-eye that is never wrong.

For pigeons flying around Wimbledon, Rufus, a three-year-old bird of prey, is a feathered fiend. But for fans, organisers and players alike he helps keep the place clean and prevents distractions on court.

Keeper Wayne Davis said: 'He provides more of a deterrent really, and keeps the pigeons away from court and stops them nesting rather than eating them.
'He can do though, he'd eat half a rabbit if he could.'

Rufus is a Harris hawk, a US species, and is a firm fixture around SW19, even having his own pass showing his job title: Bird Scarer.

Mr Davis, 48, and Rufus arrive every day at 5.30am and work for four hours. The hawk flies around the massive footprint of the south-west London tennis capital, keeping more timid birds at bay.

The pair then go to other jobs: keeping pigeons off Westminster Abbey and Hampton Waterworks among others.

Bird's-eye view: Rufus is a Harris Hawk and even has his own pass for Wimbledon which reads: Bird Scarer

Rufus might terrify other birds but he attracts admiring looks from tennis fans who always ask Mr Davis to stop for a picture.

Mr Davis said: 'He is very popular. People are mesmerised by birds of prey. And in this context, people are often surprised to see Rufus.

'But he's very good. I trained him to be used to people and all the things he would encounter in his work.'

Mr Davis, a father of six who has helped protect Wimbledon from pigeons since 1999, said working with Rufus is sometimes tricky. The bird, which is fitted with a radio transmitter, likes a bit of independence and sometimes flies off.

Important role: Rufus has to ensure that no birds nest and catches vermin during Wimbledon and regularly patrols Court 1

He has sometimes not returned and has stayed the night at Canary Wharf and Northampton, tempted back to domesticity with a rabbit. Recently Rufus fled to a residential garden in Wimbledon.

Mr Davis tracked the bird and had to explain on the householder's doorstep why he wanted to come in and have a look round the garden.

'It can sound a bit dubious: can I come in and look round your garden because I've lost my bird? But they were relieved when they saw him.'

High profile: Mr Davis also takes Rufus to keep pigeons away from Westminster Abbey and Hampton Waterworks

source :dailymail