Recent frequency of the activity justifies raising the recurrent matter of ravens stealing golf balls. This has happened to me at Queanbeyan and Royal Narrabundah. As Kathy Cook has mentioned, orange balls (used because they are easier
to find among pale leaves) are particularly attractive, precluding their use around Canberra so far as I’m concerned.
Yesterday at Duntroon I lost one white ball to a dark marauder. I was about to lose a second when a brisk sprint scared off the purloiner, and I was rewarded by finding it had dropped another white ball it had been carrying - so all
square for the day. I spoke to another golfer who had lost one yellow and one white in the same afternoon (not the extra ball I retrieved, which had an unusual insignia. I am happy to return it to any golfing chatliner who can identify it).
It seems this problem occurs around the world, so different species of corvids are implicated, certainly A Ravens and Torresian Crows in Australia. There is evidence the practice is seasonal, apparently increasing now that pairs of A
Ravs are beginning to act in territorial fashion. The high-risk fairways I have mentioned are lined by mature Radiata Pines, probably nest sites of the ravens in question. My own belief is that the ball-stealing is food motivated. Corvids are well-known
cachers of food items and may believe the hard object will become edible in due course – by hatching, or giving rise to an emergent insect, or simply decomposing. The association of humans with food items may be a factor, particularly as golfers are seen
to eventually pick up their balls and take them away. The practice continues despite what must have been many disappointed expectations as regards ‘becoming edible’. Perhaps older ravens, veterans of a hundred or so unsatisfying ball thefts, know better.