Hawk-Eye technology has long been a feature in cricket and tennis but now a genuine hawk, Rufus, is ruling the roost over both Wimbledon and Lord’s.
Rufus the Hawk has been making pigeons’ lives hell for more than a decade at the Wimbledon tennis championships.
But once his early morning shift is done at the All England Club, Rufus heads across London to Lord’s — having been called in to do a special hit-job on pesky pigeons during the Cricket World Cup.
“It is new territory for him,” his handler Imogen Davis told reporters at Wimbledon yesterday.
“It’s new stimulation, a new area to go pigeon hunting.
“It’s a smaller area in Lord’s. Here we’ve got so much ground, whereas there, there’s lots of streets,” she said of the home of cricket, wedged in a plush residential area of north London.
“There’s quite a few pigeons in the trees and that’s his favourite way to find them. You see him dive into a tree. He can see 10 times more clearly, and further than we can.
“I see him go straight into a tree, full force, and they scatter out.”
Rufus, who weighs one pound, six ounces (625 grammes), has a bit more work to do yet at Lord’s.
The 28,500-capacity ground hosts the group stage match between Bangladesh and Pakistan tomorrow and then the World Cup final on July 14.
Rufus has had his work cut out keeping pigeons down the pecking order at Wimbledon this year as the new Court One retractable roof comes into operation.
“It’s like a new playground for him to find new hiding places that the pigeons will be in,” said Davis.
“It makes him a little bit more playful, mischievous and keen to work out what’s going on.
“He used to sit on the crane while they were building it, surveilling his territory.”
The new retractable roof on the 12,000-seater Court Once was deployed for the first time on Tuesday due to fading light.
A Harris hawk with a one-metre wingspan, Rufus is now on his 11th Wimbledon championships and has met top players Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.
But if there are no pigeons to put in their place, Rufus has his own ideas, often flying off across the road hunting for prey.
“This morning I had to run around the golf course,” said Davis, 32.
“He went off over there because there were no pigeons around here. So then I have to run around looking like a crazy lady whistling up into the trees.”