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On Pigeon Patrol, Rufus the Hawk Rules the Skies Over Wimbledon

On one occasion three years ago, however, Imogen Davis had to chase him down at a nearby golf course. He took off again, across a road, then out of sight. She followed the jingle of his small bronze bell, attached to a talon.

She found him in the middle of a pond, standing in a thicket of weeds, hovering over a freshly killed duck. She couldn’t let him eat it. A full tummy would mean he wouldn’t come home until he was hungry again.

She waded through muck and lily pads, then through waist-high water. When she trooped back to Wimbledon, past crowds lined up to watch tennis in their finery, she had Rufus in her clutches.

One time, he vanished overnight.

Wayne Davis had left the bird in the family camper, parked outside an apartment they stay at during tournaments. Davis tucked him into the black cage that is his bedroom, and cracked a camper window just enough for ventilation. In the morning, Rufus and his cage were gone.

Someone had broken in and stolen him.

“My heart sank,” Imogen Davis said. She, her parents and her siblings had bought Rufus from a breeder when he was 16 weeks old, and he had become a member of the family.

“It was terrible,” she said. “There were a lot of tears.”

By then, Rufus had celebrity status, even a Twitter handle. The theft of Rufus the Hawk became headline news.

“Game, set and snatched,” wrote The Daily Mail.

The police said to expect someone to be in touch, demanding a ransom.

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