Golf Balls - Ravens

To: Birding-Aus <>
Subject: Golf Balls - Ravens
Date: Thu, 23 May 2002 18:12:55 +1000
Hi all

I've already written to Eddie suggesting that golfers would
be better occupied on weed reduction, habitat creation etc.
to counter the negative effects of golf courses. These days
too much land which could be natural habitat is taken for
golf courses (eg. in Ireland) but I am so grateful that golf
has preserved many acres from being built upon in my part of
the world.  I just wish that all the clubs had the same
regard for indigenous flora and fauna as the Royal

But, avoiding real work, I then searched on Google for
"crows golf balls". Wonderful what you can find out there !

Maybe it all started in Thailand:

"The story goes that during World War II - when balls were
extremely scarce - crows
were trained to pick up balls, which they then brought back
to their hatcheries. It was a simple enough process - once
the training period was over - for caddies to retrieve the
stolen balls from the hatcheries and sell them at a
considerable profit. The 'crow nuisance' at the RBSC reached
such disturbing proportions that the Golf
Sub - Committee decided the crows had to be done away with
by shooting them."
But how about Tasmania ?

"The golf course at Bothwell (c1839), located at 'Ratho' in
Bothwell, is the second   oldest golf course in the world
outside of the UK....crows hide and have been known to steal
the odd golf ball.."

And there is positive advice from Japan:

"One of their games involves snatching balls off golf
courses and tussling among themselves over the balls. They
display more interest in colored balls than white ones, and
they keep taking the balls if people make a fuss but lose
interest if the golfers ignore them."

I haven't quoted from the site that suggested the behaviour
has origins with older balls where feathers were used in the
construction. There is a very relevant idea in one site (see
recent postings to Birding-Aus) which suggests the balls may
be cached.

Carry on from that the Reader's Digest says a beautiful
corvid the Jay Garrulus glandarius may forget where it has
cached food and I think there have been other studies (of
titmice/chickadees Parus spp.) showing that birds which
cache food often forget where it is. 

Like golfer's losing their balls?

Michael Norris
Birding-Aus is on the Web at
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