The Real Hawkeye is Rufus, the Chief Bird-Scarer at Wimbledon
By Kyle Hill on June 23, 2014
In the comics, Hawkeye is an Avenger at the peak of human conditioning, keeping villains at bay. In real life, Rufus is the talon-wielding reason you never see pigeons interrupting tennis matches at Wimbledon.
Rufus is a Harris hawk—an agile raptor tasked with keeping pigeons of courts at the Wimbledon tennis championships running from June 23rd through July 6th. He’s been at this for years, convincing unwanted birds that the stadium is no place to roost. The effort to bring a falconer and her hawk to Wimbledon has been so successful that Stella Artois even made Rufus his own Gatorade-style pride-in-excellence commercial. Check it out below, it is absolutely epic:
Raptors like Rufus—large predatory birds that include eagles, hawks, and falcons—are nothing to mess with. Whether it is scaring pigeons or throwing goats from cliffs, raptors have the speed, vision, and strength to contend with all but the largest game (look at this eagle’s claw for goodness’ sake). All raptors also have ratchet tendons, which allow the birds to effectively lock their claws shut and maintain enormous grip pressures with bone notches and interlocking tendons.
None of that is good news for the pigeons that Rufus keeps out of Wimbledon, but Rufus isn’t a killer. According to a recent Reddit AMA with Rufus’ handler, “Rufus is a non-lethal deterrent which is based on the fact that pigeons have an innate sense of fight or flight, and they don’t hang around very long to fight when they see his talons!” As for why a tennis championship hired a hawk in the first place, Rufus’ results were easy enough to see. In fact, hawks have been circling Wimbledon for a decade.
“We demonstrated [to Wimbledon] how it works, and we have been there ever since!”
If you want to follow Rufus’ pigeon deterring first-hand, there is a Twitter account for the one-pound, six-ounce dinosaur. He will be patrolling Wimbledon’s grounds from 5AM to 9AM all week.
Screengrab from Stella Artois