Wimbledon hawk Rufus returned to owner

Imogen Davis: ''We have been really touched and overwhelmed by all the support"

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The hawk used to scare pigeons from Wimbledon has been found, three days after it was stolen from a car in south-west London.

The news that Rufus the pigeon-scaring hawk had been found was posted from his Twitter account by his owner.

It said: "Rufus is healthy and well... We are SO excited/happy/relieved."

He went missing from Dunstall Road, Wimbledon, on Thursday night. A member of the public claimed to have spotted his abandoned box on Friday morning.

Martin Underwood, the manufacturer of the stolen travel box, took the phone call.

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Rufus the hawk, on Centre Court with handler Imogen Davis

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He said a young man told him: "I think I've found something that belongs to you."

At the time, Mr Underwood was unaware the hawk was missing but he recommended the man hand the box in to the police or the RSPCA.

A Met Police spokeswoman said Rufus was handed in to the RSPCA Animal Hospital in Putney. She said he had a slightly sore leg and would have a few days rest before he started working again.

Rufus's owner Imogen Davis, 25, said: "We have Rufus back, safe and well. We are ecstatic and so, so overwhelmed with all the lovely messages and help we have received."

The four-year-old harris hawk is used to scare pigeons away from roosting on the roof of Centre Court in the mornings before spectators arrive.

This year for the first time, he was kept overnight in a parked car instead of being driven from Corby in Northamptonshire each day for his 05:30 BST start.

There were fears for Rufus's welfare as Ms Davis had said he would be getting hungry.

Asked how often he needed to be fed, Ms Davis said: "When we fly him he is fed a few times daily. He mainly eats quail or chicken but he would eat any meat."

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