Wimbledon hawks complete 15th year of service

Rufus looking over the tennis courts

Rufus arrives at Wimbledon from about five o’clock in the morning

A hawk used to scare pigeons away from Wimbledon has completed his 15th year protecting the tennis tournament.

Rufus, an American Harris hawk raised in Brigstock, Northamptonshire, has been responsible for keeping the courts pest-free.

This year he was joined by a female Harris hawk, who was founded three months ago in Rockingham Forest.

Rhea, who was named following an appeal on social media, was being trained to work at the event with Rufus next year.

Rufus the hawk

Rufus’s handlers said his favorite food to have as a treat was quail

Harris hawks fly in groups in the wild – the only raptor that does so. However, Rufus and Rhea did not work together during the tournament.

Brigstock-based Avian Environmental Consultants, which supplies “bird control services” to landmarks, shopping centers and warehouses, raised and trained Wimbledon’s chief pigeon scarer.

Handler Donna Davis explained to BBC Radio Northampton that “Rhea came for a couple of visits, just to get her used to the different places that we went”.

She said she would not be comfortable flying them together, unless they had done so when they were young and used each other.

Donna Davis holding Rufus

Rufus the hawk was in the skies as Carlos Alcaraz won the Wimbledon men’s singles title

Rufus, who has been flying at Wimbledon since 2008 when he was 16 weeks old, went missing in 2012..

He was returned three days later and has been monitoring the skies every year since.

Ms Davis believed Rufus was “quite happy” with his job.

“People often comment on how relaxed and unfazed he is – that in itself says he’s not disturbed or perturbed by people being around. He’s just chilled with it all.”

Harris Hawks usually live for between 25 and 35 years and Rufus is expected to continue working “as long as he’s in good health”.

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