Friday, November 20, 2009

Birding Laughs: Ravens in Cedar City, UT

Last month I mentioned my uncle in Cedar City that was part of introducing me to birding. I got an e-mail from him this week that I thought was pretty funny. Since he retired from Southern Utah University were he taught Spanish for many years, Uncle Dick has made golfing part of his daily exercise routine. While out on the Cedar Ridge Golf Course he has been enjoying the wildlife while whittling down his handicap.

He has been noticing some interesting raven behavior...they are carrying golf balls in their beaks! Uncle Dick decided to keep track of how often he sees this phenomenon. He reports that since April 2009 to date he has seen this happen 38 times. Fascinating!

Uncle Dick's friend Les commented: "think of their disappointment when they drop it on the rocks, thinking they are going to have an egg omelet and they only get surprised as it bounces away!!!!"

I did a Google Search on this behavior and it appears that it is quite common. Ravens are attracted to shiny objects like pebbles, bits of metal, and even golf balls and will cache them in piles near their nests. One anecdote I read said that a golfer observed that the Ravens preferred the shiny golf balls over those that had lost their luster.

Do they cache items to impress a mate? Or are they like little boys who collect things for the sake of having treasures?

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