What Do Ravens Eat? (Raven Diet & FAQs)

Common raven eating a scavenged dead bird

When you see a raven, you might wonder about their mystique. But what exactly do ravens eat? Do they have any favorite foods or unique eating habits?

Typically, the diet of ravens reveals more than just what they eat. From the wilderness to urban landscapes, their food choices display much about their adaptive skills and the environments they inhabit.

Stick with us as we discuss what ravens feast on and the reasons behind their dietary preferences. Plus, we will share some fascinating facts about these mysterious birds. Let’s get started!

What Do Ravens Typically Eat?

Raven cracking and eating a nut

Ravens are versatile eaters, as they feast on a wide range of protein sources like rodents, insects, small mammals, and bird hatchlings. They also enjoy fruits and seeds, adding variety to their diet. Interestingly, ravens do not shy away from eating carrion and garbage too.

As you can see, ravens are opportunistic foragers and scavengers. But let’s take a closer look at what these birds specifically munch on to get to know their eating habits better:

  • Berries
  • Rubbish
  • Dead animal remains
  • Apples
  • Gulls
  • Locusts
  • Spiders
  • Terns
  • Bird eggs
  • Baby birds
  • Lizards
  • Frogs
  • Fish
  • Pet food
  • Almonds
  • Cicadas
  • Grains
  • Rodents
  • Acorns
  • Scorpions
  • Vegetables
  • Figs
  • Caterpillars
  • Worms
  • Baby tortoises
  • Shellfish
  • Crabs
  • Young rabbits
  • Human food
  • Undigested food in feces

Based on the list above, it’s evident that ravens are food enthusiasts. They will eat just about anything they come across in their environment.

This adaptability makes them resourceful and ensures they can find sustenance in various situations.

Fun Fact: Did you know that ravens are fantastic at hiding their food? According to a 2019 study, they are like food-caching pros, even using rocks to conceal their secret stash.

What Is a Raven’s Favorite Food?

Black common raven eating dead animal

Known for their resourcefulness, ravens often prefer carrion or dead animal carcasses over other food sources. This preference aligns with their behavior as opportunistic scavengers, like other avians in this list.

In particular, carrion offers ravens a readily available meal, especially during harsh conditions when hunting live prey is difficult.

Scavenging also minimizes the risks associated with hunting, such as injury or spending too much energy.

However, it should be noted that ravens face a limitation when it comes to feeding on large animal remains. Specifically, they do not have the physical strength or a bill that is sharp enough to easily break through thick hides.

Most of the time, these birds rely on other predators and hunters to break the skin of these carcasses.

Fun Fact: Ravens sometimes drop bits of carrion onto the road and wait for passing cars to do the dirty work of breaking it open.

8 Interesting Facts About Raven Feeding Habits

Raven feeds young by mountain lake

You already know what ravens love to consume, but there’s more to learn about them. Below are eight interesting facts about raven feeding habits that you should be aware of:

1. Ravens have a great memory when it comes to food

Ravens have a remarkable memory when it comes to food. They can remember the locations of plentiful food sources and return to them as needed. This ability ensures they don’t miss out on valuable sustenance.

Interestingly, a 2016 study revealed that ravens can retain specific memories for up to a month. This long-term memory aids them in revisiting productive feeding sites.

2. Many ravens are experts at building powerful alliances

Surprisingly, ravens are famous for forming strategic alliances with other animals to secure food. This collaboration often involves teaming up to find or even steal meals, demonstrating their social intelligence.

However, such alliances can be double-edged swords, as ravens also steal food from their partners. They are extremely skilled in snatching morsels when the chance arises.

Last summer, I witnessed a fascinating example of this particular raven’s behavior from a certain distance. Near a wolf pack’s recent kill, a group of ravens waited patiently.

They seemed to comprehend the wolves’ hunting patterns and used this knowledge to their advantage.

As the wolves feasted on their kill, the ravens slowly moved closer, grabbing small pieces of meat when possible. It was a risky but strategic move, which showed their understanding of timing and opportunity.

Check out this video to see how ravens and wolves enjoy a meal together:

It's a Dinner Party for Ravens and Wolves!

3. Ravens are professionals at food extraction

Ravens are not just scavengers; they are also adept at using tools. They skillfully utilize sticks to extract food from narrow spaces. This tool use demonstrates their problem-solving abilities.

For example, ravens have been observed using twigs to fish out insects from bark crevices.

4. Most ravens are excellent mimics

Ravens possess an incredible ability to mimic human sounds, which is a skill they sometimes use to find food. This talent allows them to attract or distract humans, gaining access to new feeding opportunities.

For instance, ravens in urban areas have been heard imitating car noises or human voices to draw attention and scavenge food from unsuspecting people.

5. Ravens excel at cracking nuts

Generally, ravens display incredible creativity when it comes to opening hard-shelled nuts. They often fly high and drop these nuts onto roads, using the hard surface to crack them open.

Further, observations show that these enigmatic birds choose busy roads for this purpose; they let vehicles assist in breaking the nuts.

This clever use of human activity highlights their adaptability and intelligence in sourcing food.

6. Ravens are aerial acrobats when hunting insects

Ravens display incredible aerial agility while hunting insects and bugs. Their aerial acrobatics, involving swift dives and sharp turns, are a testament to their flying prowess.

In particular, these birds perform complex tricks to outmaneuver their airborne prey. Basically, their ability to twist and turn mid-flight makes them effective hunters.

7. Urban-dwelling ravens embrace modern dining

In urban settings, ravens have adapted to dining on human leftovers. In fact, they are commonly seen around fast-food restaurants, scavenging for scraps.

This behavior shows their ability to thrive in human-dominated landscapes by utilizing available resources.

Fun Fact: Historically, this is not a new trend. Ravens have been attracted to human food for over 30,000 years. During the Pavlovian culture, they fed on remnants of mammoth carcasses left by human hunters.

8. Ravens perform a distinctive “food calling” ritual

Did you know that ravens engage in a unique behavior known as “food calling?” They use specific sounds to inform other ravens about the presence of food.

To be specific, the distinct “haa” yells they emit essentially mean “food over here.” This vocalization not only aids in sharing resources but also strengthens social bonds among the raven community.

How Do Ravens Hunt Their Prey?

The raven eats rowan berries

As intelligent creatures, you can expect that ravens are skilled predators. They often hunt in pairs, especially when targeting seabird colonies or nesting sites. This teamwork increases their success in capturing prey.

When hunting, these birds specifically use their strong beaks to strike at nestlings, hatchlings, eggs, and other young animals. They also employ their beaks to dig out food buried in mud or snow.

Despite their predatory skills, though, keep in mind that ravens usually prefer scavenging and stealing over active hunting.

They are opportunistic feeders, often opting for the easier route of consuming leftovers from other creatures or human sources.

This preference for scavenging is part of why ravens are sometimes called “wolf birds.” They share a similar ecological niche with wolves; they follow these dog-like animals to feed on the remains of their kills.

How Do Ravens Consume and Digest Their Food?

Raven eating a walnut with its beak

With regard to tasting food, ravens are meticulous. Before swallowing, they crush and palpate it in their bills, wherein they determine its suitability for ingestion.

This process, lasting several seconds, ensures that they only consume what is beneficial and discard the rest.

In terms of digestion, ravens possess a two-part stomach. The proventriculus, or glandular stomach, initiates the digestive process. Here, hydrochloric acid breaks down digestible parts of their meal into a liquid form.

Meanwhile, the muscular part of their stomach or the gizzard plays a crucial role in breaking down harder food components. It grinds down tough structures, aiding in the efficient digestion of various food items.

Fun Fact: Similar to owls, ravens regurgitate indigestible parts of their food. Components like fur, bones, and teeth are compacted into pellets and expelled.

Can You Feed a Raven?

Feeding wildlife, including ravens, is generally prohibited under animal harassment laws. These regulations are in place to protect animals from potential harm and to maintain their natural behaviors and diet.

As established, ravens are highly adaptable and can typically find their own food, which makes human intervention unnecessary.

However, if you encounter ravens in need, note that certain foods can be offered. Suitable options include seeds, grains, unsalted nuts, suet, fruits, and corn kernels.

These items are safe for these birds and can provide necessary nutrition in a pinch.

Note: If you find yourself in a situation where feeding ravens seems vital, contact a wildlife rehabilitator first. They can provide guidance on how to best assist these birds without causing harm or unintended consequences.

What Do Baby Ravens Eat?

Baby ravens start with soft, easily digestible meals from their parents in their early life. Insects are a common choice, as bugs provide the essential nutrients for their initial growth.

As the baby ravens grow, however, their diet becomes more varied. Parents start introducing bits of their regular food, which includes a range of items from seeds to small animals.

This gradual introduction to solid food helps the young ravens adapt to the diverse diet they will have as adults.

Broadly speaking, this feeding process continues for about six months. During this time, these birds learn to eat various foods and begin to develop the skills they’ll need for independent survival.

Fun Fact: An interesting aspect of raven parenting is that both the mother and father are involved in feeding the young. They regurgitate food and water stored in their throat pouches to feed their chicks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Raven with scrap of bread in beak

Do Ravens Eat Small Dogs?

Ravens are opportunistic feeders, but the likelihood of them attacking small dogs is quite low. These birds usually prefer easier and more accessible meals in their environment.

But in rare cases, a group of ravens, known as unkindness, might go after small animals, including canines. This behavior is not typical but can occur if other food sources are scarce or if the opportunity presents itself.

Do Ravens Eat Fish?

Much like the menu of their crow relatives, ravens often include fish in their diet. As a matter of fact, they are opportunistic feeders known to eat various fish types.

To be specific, some of the fish that ravens enjoy eating include goldfish, anglerfish, and salmon remains.

Do Ravens Eat Bread?

Though it’s not the best for their health, ravens will absolutely eat bread. They are not picky and will consume almost anything accessible. Since bread is readily available, it often becomes part of these birds’ diet.

What Do Ravens Eat in the Winter?

In winter, ravens adapt their diet significantly. According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, half of their diet consists of live prey. This includes weakened animals like sheep, cats, bats, mice, and raccoons.

Besides hunting, ravens also turn to plants. They eat stems, leaves, and roots of grasses, sedges, and forbs. This varied diet helps them survive the harsh winter months.

How Much Do Ravens Eat in a Day?

Ravens typically eat over 100 grams of food on a daily basis. While this seems substantial, it’s relatively modest compared to some birds. For instance, chickadees need 35 percent of their body weight in food each day.

In contrast, common ravens consume about 4% of their body weight daily. However, note that their caloric needs increase during winter to cope with the colder temperatures.

Overall, ravens eat a wide variety of interesting foods that show how smart and adaptable they are. Do you have thoughts or questions about their diet? Feel free to drop them in the comments!

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