All eyes are focused on Roger Federer and Marin Cilic in Sunday’s Wimbledon men’s singles final, including those of resident pest control expert Rufus the hawk.
To keep the Wimbledon complex — and particularly Centre Court — free of pesky pigeons, Rufus has maintained watch throughout the championships.
And what a job he has done — the showpiece court has not been frequented by winged interlopers in 2017, which means a successful two weeks at the office for Rufus and his handler, Wayne Davis.
While champions have come and gone at SW19, Rufus consistently has delivered the results, keeping the All England Club free of intruders — and it’s a job he actually does year-round.
“He’s a pigeon’s number one enemy, so if you’re a pigeon and you see a hawk flying around, you move away,” Davis told Omnisport.
Obviously when the Grand Slam comes to town his efforts are stepped up, and his reward for another excellent performance is watching Sunday’s final from the rooftops — there is surely no better view!
So who is Rufus the hawk? Here’s a look at Wimbledon’s top pigeon catcher.
— Rufus is a male Harris hawk
— Wimbledon organizers use Rufus because he is well-adapted to working in the tight spaces around SW19. His normal habitat is woodland, which also requires him to fly through tight spaces.
— Rufus’ days start at 5 a.m., so no lazy mornings! He flies until 10 before taking a back seat when the general public begins to arrive.
— The 10-year-old is a regular at the All England Club throughout the year, spending two days a week at Wimbledon outside of the Grand Slam fortnight.
— When the tennis players arrive, Rufus steps up his workload and flies every day, but his task is more preventative, as the pigeons have already gotten the message!
— Rufus has privileged access to the entire Wimbledon complex — something not many people can claim. “He goes wherever the pigeons are,” Davis says. “If there’s some on Court One, he’ll go there and chase them.”
— His work should not be underestimated — the lush grass courts are heaven for pigeons, so Rufus’ efforts ensure the surfaces remain in the best possible condition.
— And it’s not just at Wimbledon that Rufus struts his stuff, he also patrols 11 other sites in London including Westminster Abbey, Craven Cottage and Billingsgate fish market.
— His popularity knows no bounds, with over 10,000 people following him on Twitter. Handler Wayne has just two!
— The fame hasn’t gone to his head, though, so if you’re at Wimbledon you might be lucky enough to get a picture with the star of the show.
— “We don’t put his hood on and march him around like a celebrity,” Davis says. “He’s had thousands of pictures taken, from the players to the public, he’s got time for everyone.”
— And who’s he backing in the final? Cilic apparently! Good luck with that one, Rufus.