HomeSportsEagles used by the Open to chase away troublesome seagulls

Eagles used by the Open to chase away troublesome seagulls

Situated on the east coast of Scotland, St Andrews may be affectionately known as the ‘home of golf’, but it is a shared residence for some very disruptive roommates: the seagulls.

As spectators politely watch the silent signs held up by the marshals as players hit their shots, the seabirds, swarming over the famous yellow leaderboard on the 18th hole, make an impressive ruckus.

As they circle around in search of food, the fear of being the unlucky landing place for their waste is a constant anxiety, with various staff and fans already making mistakes.

Yet in the skies above the food court and nearby bleachers, not a single seagull is visible. This is the result of an ingenious recruitment by the organizers of the event: four birds of prey.

Fans cruising the Old Course during the week will get used to seeing a pair of falcons, a red-backed and a harris, an Indian eagle-owl and a tawny eagle.

Named Enya, Nailer, Sage and Fearnley respectively, the keepers perch on their handler’s gloves to ward off seagulls from the picnic area, as well as from stands 1 and 18.

The birds hail from nearby Elite Falconry, contracted for the event, with handler John at lunchtime for Thursday’s first round after a flurry of gull activity around the first tee in the early morning.

“Without us here, the seagulls would literally be shelling people trying to steal their food,” John told CNN Sport.

Since seagulls are not a typical meal of the four birds of prey, they do not fly around the field and instead sit quietly on their guide’s glove for the duration of their watch, their very presence is enough to ward off attackers. unwanted visitors.

Golf isn’t the only sport that enlists the help of birds of prey at events. At Wimbledon, Rufus the Hawk has long been a local tennis hero for his efforts at the All England Tennis Club.

By keeping the courts free of pigeons, whose pecking at grass seeds can disrupt play at the Grand Slam of tennis, Rufus has become something of a local hero in South West London, with a super fan dressed as a falcon to the 2017 championships.

If the Open organizers really want to up their game, rumor has it there will be a Tiger in town this week that may scare golfers and seagulls alike.

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