What Do Crows Eat? (Favorite Food, Diet & FAQs)

Crow eating a dead bird

Crows eat a variety of foods, making the most of what is available to them. From fruits and seeds to small mammals, their diet is as diverse as their habitats.

These keen observers have mastered the art of finding food in both wild and urban settings, making them one of nature’s most adaptable and resourceful birds.

In this article, we’ll look at the vast range of foods crows enjoy, how they adjust their diet with the changing seasons, and the dos and don’ts of feeding them. Read on to discover the intriguing world of what crows eat!

What Do Crows Eat?

Crows eating carrion

Crows are exceptionally versatile eaters. They are omnivorous, consuming everything from insects and small animals to grains, fruits, and even human food scraps.

From suburban neighborhoods to dense forests, these birds have a knack for finding food. Here’s a closer look at what crows eat:

  • Fish: Crows don’t just eat things that live on land. The fish crow, in particular, is known for its preference for aquatic prey. They often venture into shallow waters, where they capture fish and even scavenge the remains of larger fish.
  • Nuts: Nuts are a favorite among many species of crows. In fact, they have developed smart techniques, such as dropping them from great heights onto hard surfaces, to crack open nuts like pistachios and pecans.
  • Eggs: Bird eggs are a protein-rich delicacy for crows. They often raid the nests of various bird species, including Common Loons, American Robins, and even larger birds. They think of it as a delicious treat and will eat the entire egg along with its shell.
  • Carrion: Like other birds that feast on the remains of dead animals, crows are also often seen feeding on carrion. Whether it’s roadkill or the remains left by other predators, crows will happily scavenge, making the most of what’s available.
  • Insects: Insects form a significant part of a crow’s diet. They eat a variety of flying and ground-dwelling insects, including ants, mealworms, caterpillars, and beetles. Their feeding habits play a key role in the ecosystem, controlling certain insect populations.
  • Mollusks: Crows, particularly those living along the coasts like the Northwestern crows, feed on various mollusks. This includes snails and types of clams like basket cockles and manila clams. To get the soft meat inside the shells, they use their strong beaks to crack them open.
  • Other birds: Crows can be predatory and might prey on smaller species of birds or even baby birds. Their versatile diet means they can switch between being scavengers and predators based on availability.
  • Human food: Urban and suburban crows, like American crows and pied crows, often search dumpsters for leftover food. They love dried pet food, especially the small pellet types of dog or cat food.
  • Small mammals: Rodents, including squirrels and mice, are among the crow’s favorites. Their sharp eyesight and swift movements allow them to easily catch these small mammals.
  • Grains and seeds: Grains and seeds, especially during summer and fall, are a staple in a crow’s diet. Their love for corn has often led farmers to label them as pests.
  • Fruits and vegetables: Grapes, oranges, apples, and blueberries are just a few of the fruits and berries that crows love to eat. They’re also known to eat a variety of vegetables, diversifying their diet with these vitamin-rich sources.
  • Small amphibians and reptiles: Crows don’t mind adding a bit of variety to their diet with amphibians like frogs and salamanders or small reptiles like lizards and geckos.

Crows are able to switch easily between plant and animal foods, making them true omnivores. Their diverse diet shows their adaptability, allowing them to thrive in various environments and conditions.

Do Crows Have a Favorite Food?

Crows are opportunistic feeders, which means they’ll eat almost anything. While crows eat a wide variety of foods, plants seem to be a particular favorite.

On average, their diet consists of 72% plant and 28% animal matter. Among the plant foods, crows typically eat seeds, corn, nuts, wild fruits, and various grains.

However, their feeding patterns change over time. Crows adapt to available feeding opportunities, and their diet can vary based on the season and location.

For instance, in urban settings, you can find crows foraging for human food, including leftovers and even dog food.

Although it’s difficult to pinpoint a single favorite, it’s clear that crows are flexible and will happily eat just about anything, showcasing their adaptability in finding food.

Foods That Crows Like to Eat

Crow eating fish

The wide array of foods that crows eat demonstrates their ability to forage and find food in various environments.

Here are some of the many things that these birds like to eat:

  • Fish
  • Nuts
  • Mice
  • Eggs
  • Corn
  • Frogs
  • Grubs
  • Seeds
  • Fruits
  • Snails
  • Worms
  • Lizards
  • Rabbits
  • Carrions
  • Pet food
  • Squirrels
  • Salamanders
  • Vegetable crops
  • Human food scraps

Evidently, crows are not picky eaters. They’ll eat nearly anything they come across, from wild fruits in the forests to pet food in people’s backyards.

With a multitude of options to eat, it’s easy to see how they’ve become one of the most resilient bird species on the planet.

Foods to Avoid When Feeding Crows

Crows are known to eat almost anything they find, but it’s still important to be mindful of what you feed them.

For starters, while they might be drawn to salted and processed foods like chips or cheese, these can dehydrate them and pose health risks.

Similarly, white bread, a popular choice among bird feeders, might seem harmless but offers little nutritional value to them.

Because bread is a filler, crows may consume it in excess to the point that they cannot eat healthier alternatives.

And while the appeal of chocolate is universal, ingredients like caffeine and theobromine can be harmful to birds, even in small amounts.

Lastly, high-fat foods, including butter and fatty meats, might lead to health issues like obesity in crows. Natural food that crows eat in the wild is always the best choice for feeding these birds.

These are just a few of the many foods that crows cannot eat; if you want to know more, check out the video below:

10 things you should not Feed Crows or Magpies

Tips on Feeding Crows

Crow eating a pumpkin

Whether you enjoy watching the crows’ antics or simply wish to give them a treat, feeding birds can be a lovely experience.

To get you started on this worthwhile adventure with these charming birds, here are some tips you can follow:

  • Consistency is Key: Crows are highly observant creatures. If you want to feed them, choose a consistent time and location. This routine helps build trust, making the crows more likely to visit regularly. Remember, crows are intelligent and quickly recognize patterns.
  • Choose Nutritious Food: While crows are omnivorous birds and eat a wide variety of foods, providing them with healthy options is essential. Avoid unhealthy or processed foods. Instead, offer nutritious foods like unsalted peanuts, raw meat scraps, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Safe Feeding Environment: Set up your feeding station in an open area where crows can see everything around them. This makes them feel safe while feeding. Also, make sure the area is away from busy roads or places where predators frequent.
  • Building Trust: Gaining the trust of crows requires patience. Initially, they might be cautious. Avoid sudden movements or loud noises. Over time, as you consistently feed them, they’ll associate you with positive experiences.
  • Maintain Cleanliness: It’s essential to keep the feeding area clean. Regularly remove leftover food and ensure the feeding station is hygienic. This not only keeps them healthy but also attracts crows to feed more in your backyard.

Incorporating these tips can help you establish a rewarding connection with these fascinating birds.

In relation to this, I once noticed that crows were hesitant to approach my initial feeding spot in my garden. Taking action, I shifted the feeding station to an open area, giving crows a clear line of sight.

This simple change made the crows feel more secure. Almost immediately, there was a noticeable increase in the number of crows frequenting the area, and they were clearly attracted to a safer and more inviting environment.

How Do Crows Find Food?

Known for their intelligence and adaptability, crows are incredibly resourceful birds. Their ways of finding food are as diverse as the environments they live in.

Crows primarily gather food on the ground. They use their sharp bills to probe surfaces, sift through sand or soil, and even flip unwanted items aside. Their keen eyesight and sense of smell help them spot potential food sources.

In urban settings, crows have learned to forage in trash bins and pick up human leftovers. Crows also use clever tactics, such as dropping hard-shelled foods from heights to crack them open.

In their natural habitats, crows often perch in high spots, keeping a watchful eye for opportunities. This could be an unguarded nest of another bird or a small creature moving in the grass.

Their adaptability is further showcased when they search for food in groups. Some crows distract potential threats or competitors, while others quickly steal food away from them.

Because of their varied diet and cooperative nature, crows hardly ever go without food.

What Do Crows Eat in the Winter?

Crow while eating in a snowy area

A crow’s diet changes significantly throughout the colder months. Crows lean more towards plant matter as insects become scarce due to the cold.

This change showcases their adaptability, ensuring they get the necessary nutrients even when their preferred food sources are limited. While they still eat insects, they often resort to digging them up from the grass or dirt.

In addition to foraging for insects, crows consume seeds, nuts, berries, and other plant-based foods to sustain themselves through the colder months.

In cities, scavenging human leftovers is especially common in the winter when their usual food sources are scarcer. Crows will also eat animals that have perished from the cold or even roadkill.

What Do Baby Crows Eat?

In their early days, crows rely heavily on their parents for nourishment. Parents of baby crows prioritize protein-rich foods to support their rapid growth.

They usually bring back soft meat, insects, and worms, ensuring their chicks get the essential nutrients.

As the chicks grow, their diet expands to include fruits, seeds, and grains. During this transition, adult crows feed their young regurgitated, partially digested food, making it easier for the chicks to consume.

Are Crows Omnivores?

Crows eating leftover food

Crows are omnivores that consume a wide range of foods. In various habitats where crows are found, they showcase their diverse palate.

Their diet consists of a wide variety of foods, from seeds and fruits to insects and worms. Notably, they will eat small mammals and aren’t shy about diving into eggs and meat when given the chance.

Their ability to consume different types of food, from plant-based items to animal sources, highlights their versatility in sourcing nutrition.

Whether in urban settings or the wild, crows will eat whatever they can find, ensuring their survival across different environments.

Is It Illegal to Feed Crows?

Feeding crows might seem like a simple act of kindness and a way of befriending them, but there are important considerations to keep in mind.

While it’s not universally illegal to feed crows, I have seen signs in many places, like nearby parks and schools, discouraging or outright prohibiting it. This is because crows are wild animals, and feeding them alters their natural behaviors.

They might become dependent on human handouts, leading to potential problems for both the birds and people.

I have also seen some public areas where they are more lenient with feeding, and as expected, these places are more frequented by murders of crows.

Moreover, it’s important to remember that poisoning them is against the law. Human food isn’t always suitable for crows, and feeding them inappropriate food items can harm their health.

Frequently Asked Questions

Crow eating cheese

Do Crows Eat Squirrels?

Crows will eat squirrels, especially if they find a dead one or if the squirrel is young and vulnerable. However, squirrels are agile and quick, making them challenging prey for crows.

Typically, crows prefer easier food sources like insects, fruits, and garbage. But in situations where food is scarce, or opportunity presents itself, a crow might attempt to catch a squirrel.

Do Crows Eat Apples?

Crows eat fruits all year round, so apples are a welcome treat for them at any time. Whether they find them on the ground or pluck them from trees, apples serve as a nutritious food option for these birds.

Do Crows Eat Peanuts?

Peanuts are one of many foods that crows enjoy eating. In fact, people usually give peanuts to crows as a treat.

If you want to feed peanuts to crows, just make sure they are fresh and free from harmful additives or seasonings.

Do Crows Eat Sunflower Seeds?

Sunflower seeds are a common part of crows’ varied diets. These clever birds often munch on black oil sunflower seeds, especially when other favorites like meat scraps aren’t around.

If you’re looking to attract crows to your yard, scattering sunflower seeds can be an effective method.

Can Crows Eat Cheese?

Yes, crows can eat cheese. However, it is not recommended to feed them cheese as it contains lactose and salt, which are bad for their health.

Nevertheless, it’s safe for crows to eat small amounts of hard, fermented cheeses, especially ones that have a lower lactose content.

Do Crows Eat Bananas?

Crows find the sweet and soft insides of bananas irresistible. Not only do they enjoy the fleshy part, but they can also consume the peel, which offers additional nutrients.

Both the inner fruit and the peel provide essential vitamins and minerals that crows need to maintain their health.

Do the crows in your area have any unique eating habits or preferred foods? Please feel free to discuss your thoughts on crow food in the comments section below.

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