Page 3 Profile: Rufus, the bird-worrier of wimbledon


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The Independent Online

Rufus Hound or Rufus Wainwright?

Neither. Their namesake is a Harris hawk who, to the pigeons trying to roost at Wimbledon, is persona non grata. During the annual tennis tournament, it is Rufus’s responsibility to evict feathered squatters who could wreak havoc at the All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. Every day from 5am, the airborne pest-controller ensures that no lesser birds disrupt the day’s play. But, according to one of his handlers, all is not well down in SW19. Rufus was stolen from his protector Imogen Davis’s car last year and he hasn’t been the same since, she said yesterday. Rufus, who ordinarily rules the roost at the club, is reportedly no longer comfortable around hoodies. Ms Davis, of Avian Environmental Consultants in Northamptonshire, said his demeanor had changed since he went missing for three days before being found abandoned in his transportation cage on Wimbledon Common.

You mean hooded sweatshirts?

“He doesn’t like people with hoods – he hates it,” said Ms Davis. “Even Jago, my little brother, can’t come near him when he’s wearing his bike helmet. Any other people he sees with hoods up, he gets a bit grouchy.” The exact cause of Rufus’s strange aversion is not known because the bird-nappers – hooded or otherwise - were never caught. However, Ms Davis thinks it could also be down to his age. “Personally I think he’s in his teenage phase,” she added.

So there’s a chance to bird-watch at Wimbledon?

Not exactly; Rufus is the only hawk employed and he clocks off at 10am before the thousands of fans arrive. His position is unique, having been introduced when Imogen’s sister, Anna, suggested using hawks to clear to stadia of pigeons 14 years ago. Their birds were also used at the London 2012 Olympics.