Harris hawk Rufus rustled – but now returned to resume Wimbledon duties

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The story of the theft of Rufus – the American Harris hawk – used to scare away pigeons from the Wimbledon courts has attracted press attention throughout the world – from India to Indonesia – not to mention in virtually all the UK national press and even a spot on the Today Programme on 2 July.

The American Harris hawk, named Rufus, was taken together with its cage and handling glove overnight between Thursday and Friday last week from his handler’s car parked on a private driveway in Dunstall Road, Wimbledon. The rear window of the car was open for ventilation.

For the past four years, the hawk has spent every morning of the Championships scaring pigeons away from this iconic venue. But this year was the first time, the hawk was kept overnight in a parked car instead of being driven from Northamptonshire each day for his 05:30 start.

Owner of the hawk, Imogen Davis, 25, of Avian Environmental Consultants based in Brigstock, Northants, said that she was deeply shocked by the theft of her bird.


Rufus Rufus – court side at Wimbledon

But like all, good stories, this had a happy ending. Rufus was found, still in his travelling box, on Sunday night and was then taken to the RSPCA Animal Hospital in Putney before being reunited with his ecstatic owner. Imogen said: “We are so relieved to get him back, but have been touched and overwhelmed by all the help and support we have been shown.” After a good feed and a bit of a rest, Rufus will shortly be back on duty.

This theft has done much to raise the profile of the use of hawks to deter birds. Steve Tippett from BH Environmental Services explained their use to the nation at large, when interviewed on The Today programme on 2 July.

To view the interview of Imogen after being reunited with Rufus – click here

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