‘Hawking’ has been used at the All England Club since 1999 as an ideal environmentally-friendly method of pest control. They use a company called Avian Environmental Consultants, strangely enough. For years, pigeons fluttered onto Wimbledon’s prestige courts, distracting the players and distrupting the world’s premier tennis tournament. Unimpressed by officials flapping their arms around at them, a hawk has been used to scare the pigeons each morning before spectators arrive for the days play. It doesn’t kill the pigeons, but his presence is enough to frighten them away. The Davis family operate the company – not just during the fortnight of the tournament, but they visit every week of the year as pigeons do not register the hawk’s presence in their memories for very long and need regular sightings to keep them roosting at SW19.
There are many businesses that thrive during The Championships, especially in the catering and hospitality areas, but few are prepared to work for scraps and dead mice and quail. Enter Rufus – an American Harrier Hawk and his handler, Imogen Davis. At the 2012 Championships they became somewhat of celebrities when the media highlighted their work and even more so when Rufus was stolen from a car during the first week of the tournament. Pigeons all over London rejoiced, but it was shorlived. After 3 days, he was found and Hawk eye was restored – game,set and match! I drew a quick sketch and sent it to Imogen for signing.