Crows are amazingly adaptable birds. They will live in almost any open place that provides at least a few trees, poles, power lines, or buildings on which to perch along with a reliable source of food.
Crows find food in almost every kind of habitat. You can find crows in and around suburban backyards, city parks, golf courses, cemeteries, highways right of way, feedlots, farmland, pasture, forests, streams, and marshes.
Just about the only place, you won’t find crows is in the middle of a hot desert or io arctic tundra. Crows also have trouble finding food in unbroken stretches of dense forest, but they often make a home at campgrounds and clearings.
Crows survive almost everywhere because they will eat almost anything.
Crows are omnivorous. They will chow down on seeds, nuts, berries, fruits, and grain. They will eat their fill of mice and earthworms.
Some crows eat garden pests, such as tomato caterpillars.
Crows will feed from creeks, streams, and rivers, feeding on small fish, young turtles, crayfish, clams, and mussels.
They will also invade the nests of other birds to eat hatchling robins, bluejays, sparrows, loons, eiders, and terns. They also eat road-kill and garbage.
If you want to attract crows to your outdoor spaces, or if you want to keep crows out of your outdoor spaces, you need to understand how crows find their food.
Depending on where you live, the species of crows most common in your area may have well-established feeding habits. But it is very rare for crows to eat from a bird feeder. Crows like to find their own food.
Different species of crows have different favorite foods.
Hungry crows aren’t picky eaters, but different species of crows try to stick to specialized diets.
Knowing what the kinds of crows that live in your area prefer to eat gives you a valuable tool for influencing their coming and going.
What Do American Crows Eat?
American crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos) are the large birds that you may encounter almost anywhere in the continental United States and southern Alaska, across northern Mexico, and as far south as the Caribbean islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon.
It’s hard not to notice American crows. They measure 20 inches (50 cm) from beak to tail, and their wingspan can be as great as 39 inches (about a meter).
American crows are famous for visiting landfills and eating garbage. They will dine on your garbage if you don’t keep a lid on your garbage can.
These crows eat worms and insects of all kinds. They will eat fish stranded on shore or in pools of water that are drying up, and they will hunt for frogs, mice, moles, voles, and bunnies.
They will eat nuts, acorns, and seeds when they can’t find animal food. Unlike most other crows, they sometimes visit bird feeders.
You don’t have to worry about what to feed American crows if you want them in your yard. You might even want to distract them from water habitats and fishponds to preserve other animals you want on your property.
What Do Australian Crows Eat?
Australian crows Corvus orru), also known as Papuan crows or Torresian crows, normally live in northern Australia and New Guinea, also some domesticated crows of this species have escaped and live in the warmer areas of Texas and Florida.
In Australia, these crows are famous for their ability to eat poisonous tree frogs.
They capture the frog by flipping it on its back, so it can’t release poison from the glands on either side of its neck and then killing it with their bills. They eat the guts of the frog and leave the rest of their prey alone.
Australian crows are highly dependent not on poisonous tree frogs but on the food they can scavenge from garbage cans. If you want to protect your frogs, feed these crows berries and worms.
What Do Bougainville Crows Eat?
In North America, you are only likely to encounter this Papua New Guinea native crow (Corvus meeki) with a huge bill as an escaped pet.
It will prefer fruit and nuts, but it will also eat small animals.
The Bougainville crow is extraordinarily intelligent. Scientists studying this crow in the wild have observed it making fishing hooks out of discarded wood near sawmills.
What Do Carrion Crows Eat?
In Australia, carrion crows (Corvus corone, or literally “coroner crow”) are considered a nuisance because they treat landfills as an all-you-can-eat buffet.
Australian scientists have even studied how to discourage these birds from appearing around cities and towns.
You don’t have to do any work to attract carrion crows. Just leave the lid off your trash can.
What Do Collared Crows Eat?
Collared crows (Corvus torquatus) are native to northern China. They get their name from the distinctive white plumage around their necks.
Collared crows eat lots of rice. They will also eat minnows and tadpoles they find in shallow water and occasionally the nestlings of other birds.
If you keep a collared crow in captivity, supplement its rice diet with crickets and mealworms.
What Do Cuban Crows Eat?
Cuban crows (Corvus nasicus) have a distinctive bluish-purple glossy plumage and make an “aaaaauh” sound that rises in pitch as if they were asking a question.
They are mostly found on farms in Cuba, although they occasionally are seen in South Florida.
This crow dines on fruit and seeds. It’s not known for eating small animals or carrion. However, it will share your meal if you are eating outdoors.
What Do Fish Crows Eat?
If you live anywhere along the Atlantic coast of the USA from Rhode Island to Key West, or along the Gulf coast from Ft. Myers around to Galveston, or along rivers as much as 50 miles inland, chances are the crows in your yard will be fish crows (Corvus ossifragus).
Fish crows, as their name suggests, prefer to eat fish, but they specialize in eating fish that are trapped in small pools of water or shellfish that are exposed at low tide.
When they can’t find fish or shellfish, they will eat fruit, peanuts, small lizards and snakes, and the eggs and hatchlings of other birds. You can attract their attention by placing eggs in the open.
Wildlife scientists use these techniques to attract and capture fish crows to give them a vaccine to prevent infection with West Nile Virus. The vaccine protects the crows and prevents them from spreading the virus to mosquitoes that can, in turn, infect people.
What Do Hawaiian Crows Eat?
Hawaiian crows (Corvus hawaiiensis) are large birds with strong wings — they can fly all the way from the Pacific Coast of the continental United States to Hawaii — with brownish rather than black plumage.
In historic Hawai’i, these birds were considered to be an ʻaumakua, a family totem, alongside dolphins, sharks, owls, and octopi.
Hawaiian crows are extinct in the wild, so if you are feeding Hawaiian crows, you are working in a nature preserve.
Conservationists make sure that Hawaiian crows have constant access to snails, spiders, and woodlice, which comprise about 50% of their diet, along with olapa and kepau fruit clusters.
These crows will pry open the tough seeds of the olapa and kepau plants to get to the carbohydrates and plant fats inside.
What Do Little Crows Eat?
Australian little crows (Corvus bennetti) aren’t baby birds, they are unusually small crows. They range over South Australia, Western Australia, the dryer portions of the Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria.
These crows are unusual in that they find food on the ground rather than scouting for it overhead.
They mostly eat seeds and insects they find at ground level; they don’t naturally visit bird feeders. You can attract them with birdseed. Unlike many other crows, they don’t eat spoiled meat or road kill.
What Do Mariana Crows Eat?
Mariana crows (Corvus kubaryi), also known as aga, are the most common crow in the US territory of Guam. These crows have purplish and greenish tints to some of their feathers.
Mariana crows will eat whatever they find, from lizards and eggs of birds and turtles to fruit and seeds.
These crows continue to bring food to their young even after their first flight, and will congregate around any available food source.
What Do Northwestern Crows Eat?
Northwestern crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos caurinus) are all-black birds that live along the shoreline in the rainforests in the Pacific Northwest from the Olympic peninsula in Washington state to British Columbia and Alaska.
They prefer to feed on crabs and mussels exposed by low tides, but they will rummage around in trash cans to find fish and shellfish parts. They will also eat insects, worms and berries.
Northwestern crows are known to carry mussels and oysters into the air and drop them onto rocks to crack them open.
Nothing attracts more Northwestern crows than shellfish, although they are also attracted to berry bushes.
What do Do Sinaloa Crows eat?
Sinaloa crows (Corvus sinaloae) are common along the Pacific coast of Sinaloa. They sometimes nest along the Colorado River in southwestern Arizona.
These crows are well-known for turning over objects to look for insects, scorpions, and worms hiding beneath them. They will also hunt for small fish, shellfish, and the hatchlings of other birds, and they will eat fruit.
If you would like to attract Sinaloa crows to your outdoor space, put shiny fruit (like polished apples) out in the open.
What Do Tamaulipas Crows Eat?
Tamaulipas crows (Corvus imparatus) live in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas and nearby sections of South Texas. They prefer to eat insects they swoop down and capture on the ground.
They will also eat fruit and nestlings of other birds.
If you want to attract these crows, make sure that you don’t spray for bugs in the area you want to see them.
What Do White-Necked Crows Eat?
Native to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, white-necked crows (Corvus leucognaphalus) mostly feed on fruit, although they will bring their hatchlings worms.
They will also eat small toads and the eggs of other birds.
You can attract them to your property with fruit or eggs.
How You Can Use Food to Attract Crows to Your Property
The first step in using food to attract crows to your property is to match the species of crow you see on your property to its preferred food source in nature.
The fact is, it’s hard to go wrong with feeding crows, but you will get faster results and keep crows coming back by providing them with the foods they eat in nature.
But you also should make eating an interesting experience for your crows.
Most crows (we have mentioned a few exceptions, like Australian crows) find food as they are flying overhead. Crows are attracted to shiny, bright, round objects, maybe because of their love for eating the eggs of other birds.
You don’t have to put out shiny food objects, but placing mirrors or bright metallic objects next to food will get their attention.
What do I need to feed crows if I don’t know what kinds of crows they are?
You will always get more visits from crows to your backyard bird sanctuary if you offer them the foods they like most. But if you don’t know what kind of crows you have, don’t worry.
Crows aren’t picky eaters. If you aren’t sure what kind of crows you have, just follow these simple guidelines:
It’s hard to go wrong with peanuts in the shell. Peanuts need to be in their raw, natural form. They should be unsalted, unroasted, and not flavored with any kind of seasoning. Crows love them.
Popcorn attracts crows flying overhead. They can see white popcorn on the green grass from over 100 feet in the air. Just leave off the butter and salt.
Crows go nuts for nuts. Give them paper shell pecans or cracked nuts still in their shell, so crows will recognize them more readily.
Crows don’t eat the shells, but they recognize nuts from their natural state. You may enjoy watching crows crack nuts against rocks.
Crows rob the nests of other species of birds for their eggs, so you can entice them to your property with whole or boiled chicken eggs. There is no need to remove the shells.
Crows need grit. They enjoy eating oyster shells (broken up, not whole oyster shells) and cuttlebones.
Anything your dog or cat would eat appeals to crows, including dog or cat kibble. You shouldn’t leave wet pet food out for crows because it will spoil and smell bad. The crows won’t mind, but you will.
Don’t offer crows foods that are generally toxic.
Crows become severely intoxicated when they consume alcohol.
They won’t exhibit any entertaining behaviors, but they will be at greater risk of succumbing to their own predators if they finish off your beer, wine, or other alcoholic drink.
Seeds of stone fruits (apples, pears, peaches, and apricots) contain enough cyanide to cause problems for small animals, including crows.
And like your pets, crows don’t need avocados, garlic or onions, mushrooms, cheese, or processed meats.
And don’t leave food out for crows in plastic containers. Flimsy plastic containers become nest materials that can later entangle hatchling crows (or other birds) in the nest.
Some More Important Facts About Feeding Crows
Scientists have discovered that crows are capable of spreading the word about their encounters with humans so that even crows that have never seen you may know something about you.
One of the results of social learning in crows is that if you feed on a schedule, crows will visit on your schedule.
It’s always best to put food out during daylight hours so crows flying overhead will see it.
If you put food out at the same time every day, crows will notice that you are feeding them on a schedule, so you can enjoy their company on a schedule.
The best placement for a feeding station for your visiting crows is in the middle of an open yard.
Of course, if you want to attract crowds with a compost bin, a less messy equivalent of a garbage dump, where crows can dig and poke in search of novel trimmings, peelings, and shells, you may want to place it to one side of your backyard space.
It’s generally not a good idea to feed pets, particularly cats and dogs, in the same space you are trying to attract the crows. They won’t risk landing in your yard if they see a dog or cat.
On the other hand, you don’t want to leave bunnies, gerbils, hamsters, or young guinea pigs where crows might mistake them for lunch.
After you go through all of these steps to feed your visiting crows, you will need to observe them from at least 20 feet (about 6 meters) away.
Don’t go up close to crows. Let them come close to you when they know you are their friend.
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