Wimbledon’s resident hawk Rufus decided tennis was not the life for him and disappeared to the golf course this year, his handler has revealed.
The hawk is used by the All England Club to scare pigeons away so they do not cause a nuisance to players on court.
His handler Imogen Davis said: “He likes to keep me on my toes every year…and generally when somebody is expecting something of me.
“He disappeared to the golf club, and made me go into the pond after him. I was soaked up to here (my knees) and I was like: ‘You didn’t’.”
Rufus starts work at 5am, and not just during the two weeks of the Championships, his year-round job includes making sure pigeons do not nest in the roof of Centre Court.
Ms Davis, from Corby, Northamptonshire, said the Harris Hawk is trained not to attack.
She said: “It’s based on the innate sense of fight or flight, so if a pigeon wants to fight him they can hang around and give it a go but ultimately he is the predator versus prey.”
Ms Davis has to keep a close eye on the bird after he was stolen in 2012 before being returned to the RSPCA.
The 30-year-old handler said: “We were running around frantically. We never did (find out who did it). At the time all I could think about was the well being of Rufus.
“Generally on a day he has one quail or three chicks and the RSPCA had given him 13 chicks. When I went to pick him up his crop was massive.”
Rufus, who has a special Wimbledon pass with the job title ‘bird scarer’ on it, has patrolled the grounds at SW19 for a decade.
The hawk has no special plans to celebrate the anniversary, but will be keeping the grounds pigeon free as usual.
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