Not only is the Hawk-Eye technique on Wimbledon’s tennis court, which protects the sacred grass, Rufus Hawk traditionally monitors the sky as well. Birds of prey chase pigeons who want to disrupt the game and receive much love in return from the public.
“Wimbledon wouldn’t be Wimbledon without Rufus.” Anyone who hears it on the BBC may think more of a retired tennis champion or a Bonnie Watchman, who grew up on a grass court, but it is definitely a bird of prey. And it has to be said: there are few – except perhaps the old hand Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer – who have been stealing the show at the British tennis tournament Wimbledon for longer than the surviving mascots. For loyal supporters, the bird, a desert hawk – Harris hawk in English – has become part of the tournament.
Rufus Hawk has been a ‘member’ of the All England Lawn Tennis and Crochet Club, famous for eleven seasons, even with his own identity card. By the way, Mascot does not cover the entire range, as Preity’s birds do a lot more at the official Wimbledon shop than sell a T-shirt with her name on it – although it would be nice to say that she does quite well as well.
While players rule the grass, Rufus guard the skies. For groups of crows and pigeons, the sacred grass sometimes dares to be a popular travel destination – pigeons come to see the grass seeds and food scraps left behind by visitors, and so Rufus patrols at five in the morning Live in Wimbledon from eight o’clock. If there is not yet an audience. The centercourt is his main area of activity, from the rooftop he keeps a careful watch over the 43-acre London domain.
With wide wings and a top speed of 55 kilometers per hour, it is enough to detect its presence. “Pigeons identify him as a hunter and know that Rufus protects the airspace here,” says Imogen Davis, his trainer on the Wimbledon Channel. That way they cannot interrupt the game. There are already a lot of other pitfalls for players and those pigeons are not really far from the people. ”
Rufus’ owner and showpiece is his father, Falcon Wayne Davis, who in 1999 supplies an official bird in Wimbledon with his family-run business in Northamptonshire, formerly Hameesh and now Rufus. Subsequently, many bird nests caused a lot of disruption during the tournament, today mainly the bird of prey is a preventive act: protecting birds from nesting and laying eggs there in the roof structures of two large stadiums.
Half the work, by the way, because once the gate is open, Rufus does not take action for security reasons. That some pigeons or other birds managed to break during a competition in the first week could not stop. However as a commentator you can certainly package that as ‘pleasant chaos’.
Rufus then spends the time available to his fans on ‘#teamrufus’. Wimbledon’s organization is only too happy to show her during television appearances or for sponsored videos, and her own accounts are also quite popular: on Twitter (10,000 followers) and Instagram (2,000), Rufus goes – Or rather Imogen Davis – walking the field wearing Rufus shirts in conversation with many fans.
Just to say: when Rufus suddenly disappeared for three days during the tournament in 2012, that ‘birdnapping’ was described in the British press as a national disaster. Rufus eventually met after three days in a park near Wimbledon, to the relief of the public in his black travel box.
When the tournament ends, Rufus moves to other locations: in addition to twice a week above the grass courts of Wimbledon, he can also be seen at Westminster Abbey, Lord’s Cricket Ground or football club Fulham. Pigeons have been warned.
We are flying in all the last minute orders for the Wimbledon final. Order today for a chance to see this weekend’s part 🦅 / / https://t.co/qakzGqqO4J
– Rufus the Hawk (@RufusTheHawk) 11 July 2019