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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 at the All England Club 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 Harris’s Hawk, Rufus. Davis flies Rufus over the Wimbledon grounds a few times a week throughout the year -- a truly scary sight for any other feathered visitors.
Wimbledon Raptors – 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, 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 Harris’s Hawk named Rufus. [Harris’s Hawk calls] Davis, a long-time falconer, takes Rufus to the Wimbledon grounds a few times a week throughout the year. Rufous soars over the venerable courts, a truly scary sight for any other feathered visitors. The pigeons get the message: move elsewhere, and don’t come back soon [sounds of pigeons taking off]. A non-toxic solution to that problem!
Oh! And when Rufus isn’t busy at Wimbledon, he’s patrolling Westminster Abbey! [Harris’s Hawk calls and pigeon taking off]
For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann.
Bird audio provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Individual Rock Pigeon cooing and several cooing recorded by A.L. Priori. Call of the Harris’s Hawk 140260 recorded by G. Vyn.
Ambient audio by Kessler Productions.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org July 2018 Narrator: Mary McCann
ID# wimbledon-raptors-01-2012-07-06 wimbledon-raptors-01
Sincere thanks to Geoffrey Ashman for his special assistance, and to Imogen of Avian Consultants, for securing the photo of Rufus!