Meet Rufus, the Harris's Hawk That Keeps Wimbledon's Courts Pigeon Free

At the legendary tennis tournament, entry is exclusive to people. All thanks to this hard-working raptor.

This audio story is brought to you by BirdNote, a partner of The National Audubon Society. BirdNote episodes air daily on public radio stations nationwide.


This is BirdNote.

Wimbledon. The greatest of all tennis tournaments reaches its exciting climax the first week of July. The scene at the All England Lawn Tennis Club is legendary: the verdant green of the courts, throngs of fans in sun hats spooning strawberries and cream, sightings of royalty … and lots of pigeons.

For many years, since the tournament began in 1877, pigeons nested in the stands, bobbled about on the courts, and, well, made a mess of things. Yet today, very few pigeons attend Wimbledon. 

Fans can thank Wayne Davis and his Harris’s Hawk named Rufus. Davis, a long-time falconer, takes Rufus to the Wimbledon grounds a few times a week throughout the year. Rufus soars over the venerable courts, a truly scary sight for any other feathered visitors. The pigeons get the message: move elsewhere, and don’t come back soon.  A non-toxic solution to that problem!  

Oh! And when Rufus isn’t busy at Wimbledon, he’s patrolling Westminster Abbey!

Writers for BirdNote include Bob Sundstrom, Todd Peterson, Dennis Paulson, and Ellen Blackstone. I’m Mary McCann.



Written by Bob Sundstrom

Producer: John Kessler

Executive Producer: Chris Peterson

Bird audio provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Individual Rock Pigeon cooing and several cooing recorded by A.L. Priori.  Call of the Harris’s Hawk 140260 recorded by G. Vyn.
Ambient audio by Kessler Productions.

© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org

July 2017   ID# wimbledon-raptors-01-2012-07-06


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