Crows are highly intelligent and quirky birds that are fun to watch and fascinating to have as regular visitors in your back yard.
What they lack in beautiful plumage and melodious bird songs they make up with antics you just won’t see with any other bird. Crows rival monkeys in their cognitive capacity.
The challenge in attracting crows to your backyard is that they don’t usually visit bird feeders.
In this article, we will share 12 ways to attract crows into your backyard with the right mix of food, fun (from the crow’s perspective, of course), and persistence.
Install a Crow-friendly birdbath
Most birds take baths.
Birds need water for drinking, softening hard food, bathing, and cooling off in hot weather.
They also need water for maintaining their feathers. If you provide crows with a crow-friendly birdbath, they will make your backyard their summer hang out and find other reasons to visit all year round.
What is a crow-friendly birdbath?
Crows are larger than songbirds, so they need baths that are wider and deeper than the ordinary birdbath you might provide Robins or Blue Jays.
Your crow-friendly bird bath needs a wide lip so crows can stash extra food they are moistening for their chicks without having to worry about its being snatched by raccoons or squirrels.
Provide a Roost
Crows spend lots of time perched in high places surveying the area around them.
They like to roost on the crossbars of utility poles and long branches of tall trees. They might also perch on a clothesline or playground equipment.
If you don’t have a comfortable and safe place for crows to roost in your yard, you can improvise your own poles with perches or large, concrete birdbaths.
Just be sure the roosting place you provide for your crows is heavy enough to stand up to their weight and animated behavior.
Put out some decoy crows
Crows are highly social animals. They will naturally fly to places where they see other crows. You can make use of their go-with-the-crowd mentality by placing one or two decoy crows in your yard to draw them in to investigate.
Once they come to check out the fake crow you have set up in your backyard space, they will keep coming for the other amenities you provide them.
You need more than one decoy crow for this strategy to work. It’s best to have at least one decoy crow that moves. You should put your decoy crows out in a pattern that imitates the way crows would congregate in real life.
Crows like to follow trails of tender shoots or tasty seeds, so put out a trail of food parallel to a trail that would lead to your decoy bird.
Crows are crafty, so they will be cautious. Increase the likelihood that crows will check out your decoys by having cover close by to give your visiting crows they can take shelter if they are sensing a trap.
Decoy crows are a tool of hunters who want to kill crows that kill their crops, so it’s not impossible that your crows will be cautious about checking out the happier home you are making for them.
Eliminate random noises
Crows are spooked by sudden, unnatural noises.
They won’t stay in your back yard if you have wind chimes, or if you have a television blaring in a room with an open window or screen door adjoining your back yard, or if you have children making boisterous, playful noises nearby.
We’re not saying that you can’t have wind chimes, TV, or active children Just make sure that the area you set aside for crows is separate from noisemakers. Crows are happier with quiet surroundings. It also helps to repair any creaky gates or loud roof vents that could disturb your crows.
There is one kind of sound, however, that will attract crows to your backyard.
Use Crow Calls
Crows have distinctive attention calls, rally calls, and distress calls. Crows will fly in to investigate when they hear these calls.
You can learn how to imitate these calls yourself, or you can purchase a traditional reed caller (something like a duck whistle) or an electronic device that plays crow calls.
These are devices you will find in sporting goods shops or the sport and hunting sections of online retailers. Most buyers of these devices use them to hunt crows, but they are also useful for inviting crows to your safe and friendly backyard.
Tempt crows to visit with the right food
Crows aren’t picky eaters, but you will get more visits to your back yard with some food offerings rather than others.
Choose foods that they can see as they fly overhead. A good offering for crows is peanuts in the shell (unroasted, unsalted, and certainly not flavored with chili powder).
Crows are attracted to popcorn, cooked or raw pasta, cracked nuts (they may not recognize nut pieces until they try them), eggs (both raw and cooked), fruit, and kibble that you would feed your cat or dog.
In fact, if you feed your cat or dog from a bowl you leave out in the open in your yard, crows will come to share the bounty when the coast is clear.
Crows eat other birds, so they will eat chicken parts and the chicken fat you leave out for them. Crows also enjoy cuttlebone and ground oyster shells.
Crows like a variety of foods. If one food doesn’t attract crows to your back hard, try others. Keep in mind that crows don’t typically eat carrion, so don’t expect them to visit your back yard if the food you put out has gone bad.
Just remember that there are certain foods you should not feed crows. Here are the top 10 foods to avoid offering to crows in your back yard:
- Chocolate – Like many other animals, crows cannot tolerate the stimulants in chocolate.
- Apple seeds or pits of peaches or apricots – The seeds and pits of stone fruits contain small amounts of cyanide. They aren’t good for people, and they can make crows very sick.
- Avocados – There is some controversy over whether avocados are truly toxic for crows and other corvids, but why take the chance?
- Onions and garlic – The sulfur compounds that make onions and garlic pungent can cause bleeding in crows.
- Alcohol – Crows can become severely intoxicated, in danger of injury, or being caught by predators, after consuming small amounts of alcohol. Leaving unfinished drinks outdoors can tempt crows to try alcohol that can harm them.
- Mushrooms – The fibers in mushrooms can “stop up” a crow’s digestive tract.
- Salt – Birds remove tiny amounts of salt naturally occurring in their food with their droppings. Their kidneys aren’t equipped to handle large amounts of salt. Don’t give any birds salted nuts.
- Caffeine – This included caffeine in small amounts of caffeine in coffee or soft drinks, left in containers in your yard.
- Cheese – Cheese contains molds that crows can’t tolerate.
- Processed meats – Lunchmeat and canned meats are too high in salt for crows.
Create a feeding schedule
If you want crows to return your yard again and again, feed them on a schedule.
The key is to put out food at the same time of day all year round, but during daylight hours so they will be able to see you putting it out.
Crows are not naturally trusting. They will have more confidence in you if you provide for them in predictable ways.
Crows are naturally skittish, so any major interruption to your feeding routine with them will result in a need to reestablish the time you want them to appear in your yard.
Place your crow feeder in an appropriate location
Crows won’t come to your feeder if they can’t see it. The ideal location for the bird feeder you use to attract crows is in the center of an open space in your backyard.
Crows will be able to see it when they fly overhead, and they will appreciate having room for escape if they are approached by a raccoon, a dog, or a cat while they are feeding.
It’s OK to have your own “perch” to watch crows feeding at their birdbath, bench, or trough, but you should sit far enough away (20 feet or about 6 meters is far enough) that they feel comfortable feeding in front of you.
Start an open compost bin
Compost bins make natural feeding stations for crows. That’s because crows love to scavenge novel foods. The peelings, trimmings, and shells you put into a compost bin with its top open will attract curious, hungry crows.
Crows will also rummage through your garbage pails looking for tasty morsels of food.
Just be sure to replace the lids on your garbage pails at night so other, undesirable creatures don’t make your backyard a pit stop.
Keep Fluffy and Fido inside, or at least outside your backyard
Crows won’t descend into your yard if your dog or cat is present. Crows see dogs and cats as potential predators, and won’t take the chance of landing in your back yard if these larger pets are present.
Smaller pets like rabbits, hamsters, and gerbils are no threat to crows, but the smallest small animals are potential targets of crows themselves, avoid a sad situation by keeping your other pets and crows physically separated.
Leave shiny objects in your yard
Shiny objects laying around your yard will catch the attention of crows as they fly overhead, especially on sunny days.
If you want to attract families of crows, not just the larger, more experienced birds, shiny trinkets left in open spaces in your yard will encourage younger, smaller crows to overcome their fears to investigate.
Crows are also attracted to the glare of fishponds. They like shiny objects, like large glass beads, that are small enough to be picked up and examined but large enough that the crows will not swallow them.
Don’t try to get too close
While it is possible to domesticate crows to make them cuddly indoor pets, most crows have a most unhappy experience with humans. Truck farmers kill them to protect young growing plants.
In some locations, it isn’t just legal to kill crows, it’s encouraged.
Even if you live in a bird sanctuary city or county, chances are that crows will have some experience with people who at best want them to just go away. Always let crows come to you first, keeping your distance until the crows are satisfied that you are their friend.
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