Wimbledon 2018: The hawk protecting the skies of SW19

Fans flocking to Wimbledon from Monday can enjoy the tennis in peace thanks to feathered employee Rufus the Hawk, the tournament’s official pigeon-scarer.

Rufus, a ten-year-old Harris’s Hawk, starts his daily shifts at the All England Tennis and Croquet Club at 5am during the Championships, but is employed on a year-round contract.

According to his PA Imogen Davis, Rufus has become ‘a member of the Wimbledon family’, and has his own fanbase with more than 10,000 Twitter followers.

“He essentially trained at Wimbledon,” she said. “He’s been there since he was very young. We got him at 16 weeks old and trained him there, so for that whole 10 years he’s had Wimbledon as his playground.”

When he isn’t patrolling Wimbledon’s Centre Court, Rufus has a busy schedule and is contracted to work at locations all over the UK, including Westminster Abbey and London’s Billingsgate Market.

Imogen said: “Rufus is actually just a deterrent so he doesn’t go round killing them all, he’s there to scare them. If he started killing them all he would never return to me because he’d be so full up from eating pigeon every day.”

Rufus’s decade of experience has made him quite the expert, she added.

“He knows where the pigeons’ favourite hiding spots are, so he gets right under the roof and chases them,” Imogen said. “It’s a constant patrol.”

That expertise even stretches to a sound knowledge of the game, with Rufus the Hawk making his own predictions for the 2018 tournament.

“His favourite player is definitely Andy Murray, but we’ve had a chat about it and he thinks he thinks Nadal’s going to win this year,” she said.

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