All’s well at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, now that the 2019 Wimbledon Championships have wrapped up, with Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep taking home the singles titles. For twelve years, one of the most valuable players around Centre Court has been Rufus, a Harris's hawk that patrols the 42-acre complex, stopping pigeons from roosting in the rafters, disrupting play, or unleashing drop shots of bird poop on unsuspecting fans and players. Under the watchful eye of his handler, Imogen Davis, Rufus's very presence is enough to persuade pigeons to find other, less prestigious places to hang out.
A bird's-eye view of Wimbledon:
- Rufus began work at Wimbledon in 2007, taking over from a hawk named Hamish. Rufus, whose official title is "Bird Scarer," has been mentoring a young hawk named Pollux, who will get a bigger role next year.
- Rufus doesn’t hunt pigeons during the tennis matches. An early-morning flyover about an hour before play begins is enough to keep the skies pigeon-free all day.
- Rufus has recently been featured in the “Here’s to Perfection” series of Stella Artois beer ads. The hawk has accounts on Twitter and Facebook, and often gets asked to pose for selfies.