Game, set and snatched: Wimbledon hawk tasked with chasing off pigeons is stolen from parked car


On the job: Rufus the American Harris Hawk, on duty at Wimbledon with his owner Wayne Davis

The hawk that patrols the skies over Wimbledon to deter pigeons has been stolen.
The American Harris hawk, named Rufus, was taken together with its cage and handling glove overnight between Thursday and Friday from a car parked in Wimbledon. Rufus was in the car on a private driveway in Dunstall Road with its rear window open for ventilation.
For the past four years, the hawk has spent every morning of the Championships scaring pigeons away from the hallowed grass.

Looking out over Wimbledon's courts the resident Harris Hawk keeps an eye out for pigeons

Owner Imogen Davis, 25, said she was still in shock after Rufus’s disappearance. ‘It’s really, really sad,’ she said.
‘He was taken in his travelling box, which is where he sleeps because it’s nice and dark and cool and he can fall asleep in there.
‘We’re very shocked – we just want to know that he is OK.’
Ms Davis said Rufus was reared by the family-run business, Avian Environmental Consultants.
She added: ‘We work as a team together. To have him taken away like that is just horrible.
‘It’s a family business, the birds are brought up around us. They’re part of the family. It’s just the way it is.’

Rufus this week, chasing pigeons away from Centre Court

Pigeons are not the Harris Hawk's natural prey, and they are trained not to attack but to circle and fly around the courts to scare the birds

Ms Davis said she originally thought it was a prank, but was not sure as a falconry glove and falconry hood were stolen at the same time.
‘Initially I was almost hoping that it was a prank because there was more possibility of us getting him back, and somebody would realise it was a stupid thing to do,’ she added.
‘But because the hood and the glove were taken, I’m not sure. I suppose at least it means he’s being looked after.
‘We have another hawk and we can still do our job but we would like Rufus back because we’re very fond of him.’

Bird's-eye view: Rufus even has his own pass for Wimbledon which reads: Bird Scarer

Rufus the Hawk, on Centre Court on Wednesday with handler Imogen Davis. Miss Davis is in shock after the theft and has appealed for his safe return

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: ‘Rufus is also a family pet and the family has become very attached to the bird.
'They are distressed over the theft and are appealing for help to recover the bird.’
Rufus has become a well-known fixture at the South-West London tennis club, with visitors often stopping to ask for photos with the hawk.
He even has his own Twitter account, but there has not been a tweet for a day.
His last tweet was before Rafael Nadal’s shock exit from the tournament, when he said: ‘Murray is through, Rafa is down 2-1 (!), Ward played brilliantly but lost to Mardy Fish, and Italy are beating Germany 1-0!’

source: dailymail