TROON, Scotland — There will be many birdies this week at Royal Troon’s venerable seaside links.
And absolutely zero seagulls.
A company called Elite Falconry is supplying trained birds of prey to fly the course and drive away the seagulls, which are notorious for raiding spectator lunches, squawking loudly and creating messes on and around the links.
The beautiful and somewhat intimidating bird pictured here is called a Harris Hawk. It dines on raw meat, but its handler assured GOLF.com that it is trained not to attack fans (or Sergio) this week at the Open.
“Just their presence is enough to drive away all the gulls,” said Elite Falconry’s Roxanne Peggie. “They don’t actually attack gulls, either. They’re focused on us. Wherever we go, they follow us.”
As Peggie spoke, a Harris Hawk clung to her outstretched arm. That hired gun is named Jane Doe. The bird appeared spry, slightly agitated, and more than up to the task at hand, but she’s part of an elite team of gull-removers this week. There is a second Harris Hawk (“Zach”) plus two falcons and one eagle.
Like Robert Streb, Paul Dunne and David Lingmerth, this will be Jane Doe’s second British Open appearance. Last year, just hours before Open week kicked off at St. Andrews, Elite Falconry received a call that seagulls were wreaking havoc at the outdoor picnic tables and other spectator areas. On short notice, the birds were on-site Monday morning, ensuring a quiet (and clean) week in the skies over the Old Course.
As for Jane Doe’s name, Peggie confirmed: “She’s a rescue bird with an unknown past.”
Jane Doe will be working all week and is available for photos. Just don’t get too close.