Inès Zeghloul with Laura Laplaud / Photo credit: Fred Bukajlo – Capa Pictures 13:47 pm, June 02, 2023

For 12 years, the organizers of the Roland-Garros tournament have used falcons to scare away unwanted birds such as pigeons. But these raptors do not fly over the courts during matches - and are therefore not visible to visitors - they are deployed at dawn.

At Roland-Garros, pigeons are a real scourge. Dirty stands, troublemakers during matches... For 12 years, the French Tennis Federation has declared war on pigeons and other birds. To get rid of it, everything was imagined as the installation of peaks, the diffusion of strident sounds. But what has shown its effectiveness: the use of a feathered squadron, capable of eradicating the majority of unwelcome birds that parade around the site.

>> READ ALSO - Roland-Garros: how are the courts prepared between each match?

"The big terror of pigeons"

With its beak and keen eye, which scans the heights of Philippe-Chatrier, Michael's falcon can easily keep other birds away. "It's the big terror of the pigeons at Roland-Garros," he told Europe 1. Falconer of the Roland-Garros tournament for two years, Michael holds on his arm a Harris Hawk, nicknamed the little eagle of Mexico because of its distribution and a certain resemblance to the Golden Eagle.

To win a war against the pigeons, Michael deploys his birds on Centre Court to scare away the birds. "Scaring makes it possible to make pigeons believe that a predator is permanently on site. It pushes them to go elsewhere if they are quieter, "he continues. Unfortunately, the spectacle of these raptors in full flight will not be visible to visitors: falcons prowl over the courts at dawn and dusk.