Wimbledon is legendary: the verdant green of the courts, the throngs of fans in sun hats, sightings of royalty ... and lots of pigeons. Since the tennis tournament began in 1877, pigeons nested in the stands and generally made a mess of things. Today, though, very few pigeons attend Wimbledon. Fans can thank falconer Wayne Davis and his Peregrine Falcons. Davis flies his Peregrines and other falcons over the Wimbledon grounds a few times a week throughout the year -- a truly scary sight for any other feathered visitors. Curious about Peregrines? Learn more at Cornell's All About Birds.
Wimbledon Peregrines—And Pigeons
Written by Bob Sundstrom
This is BirdNote!
[The smack of tennis balls]
Wimbledon. The greatest of all tennis tournaments reaches its exciting climax the first week of July. [The smack of tennis balls] The scene at the All England Lawn Tennis Club is legendary: the verdant green of the courts, the throngs of fans in sun hats, spooning strawberries and cream, sightings of royalty … and lots of pigeons. [Rock Pigeons cooing]
For many years, since the tournament began in 1877, pigeons nested in the stands, bobbled about on the courts, and, well, made a mess of things. Yet today, very few pigeons attend Wimbledon.
Fans can thank Wayne Davis and his Peregrine Falcons—or falcons [pronounced FAHL-cuns] on the other side of the pond. [Peregrine Falcon calls] Davis, a long-time falconer, brings his Peregrines to the Wimbledon grounds a few times a week throughout the year. He lets his falcons soar over the venerable courts, a truly scary sight for any other feathered visitors. [Peregrine Falcon calls] The pigeons get the message: move elsewhere, and don’t come back soon.
Now if Davis can only solve the problem of England’s summer rains. [Thunder and rain]
And here’s a nifty little tidbit: the first person to hear BirdNote each morning lives in England! He listens on his iPod, thank you very much!
Bird audio provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Call of the Peregrine Falcon recorded by G. Vyn. Pigeon cooing recorded by A.L. Priori.
Ambient audio by Kessler Productions.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2010 Tune In to Nature.org July 2010
Facts from NY Times, July 7, 2007