Crows are a common sight in our backyard, scavenging up leftover dog food. It is no secret that crows are scavengers and not very picky eaters. The most common question is, what do crows eat? Well, the short answer to what do crows eat or what do they scavenge on is that these birds feed on almost anything and everything from roadkill and trash left behind by humans to insects.
However, what crows eat in the wild versus what they consume in urban environments may be vastly different. Crows will eat what is readily available in their immediate area and what they can easily obtain. In the wild, crows have to search for food and hunt for prey. For example, in urban settings where there are many humans, what crows eat may be influenced by what humans leave behind as trash or food that has been discarded.
This article will cover what types of food crows eat, where they forage, and the specific eating habits of each species. In addition to what crows eat, we also share what baby crows eat and how to feed crows in your backyard.
Before feeding wild crows, you should learn the safest way of doing so and view your country’s laws before feeding these animals.
What Do Crows Eat?
Crows are predators and omnivorous scavengers, meaning they will eat anything available to them. A crow’s diet consists of road-kill, insects, frogs, snakes, mice, corn, garbage, human junk food, dog food, cat food, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish, even eggs in bird nestling of other wild birds.
Wild crows will eat all kinds of nuts. These include almonds, acorns, peanuts, pecans, walnuts, and any common nut in their habitat. According to Living With Wildlife, crows drop hard-shelled nuts into the street and wait for passing cars to crack them. If you are feeding wild crows nuts, you can make it easier on them by offering them shelled nuts and unsalted peanuts. It’s important to give them nuts without salt.
Seeds & Grain
As scavengers, crows will take advantage of anything they can find. They raid gardens and cornfields for food. Typically they will eat anything offered to them, such as corn, rice, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and rolled oats. Crows will also eat grain, millet, milo, and wheat.
Vegetables and Fruits
Crows enjoy eating lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, sweetcorn, pumpkin, grapes, apples, various berries (cranberries, blueberries), figs, and raisins.
Vegetables and fruits are an ideal food source for crows during the summer and fall seasons due to the fact they will likely fall onto the ground. Crows spend much of their time on the ground searching for food. This makes an easy meal for crows.
With ease, crows use their claws or beaks to break into the vegetables and fruit. There is no hunting involved; they can easily swoop down and grab a bite to eat.
With plant-based food, crows don’t need to defend their meal from predators. If you’re trying to feed crows, any fruit or vegetable will do.
Eggs and Meat
Crows steal eggs from other birds and will eat chicken eggs when given access by humans. You can sometimes find crows stealing chicken or duck eggs right out of the nest if they are giving the option. However, crows are opportunistic birds when it comes to food. They will feed on what is easily available first.
Crows are scavengers and commonly feed on carcasses, small mammals, or reptiles – such as mice, rats, young rabbits, chicks, snacks, turtles, lizards, and amphibians like frogs or toads.
When feeding crows, never feed them pre-processed food with added preservatives or salt. You can feed them hard-boiled eggs to give the crows something special to enjoy.
For the most part, crows will feed on grubs and insects, but they are harder to come by. Crows will feed on insects such as spiders, snails, crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, locusts, mealworms, earthworms, caterpillars, grubs, larvae, and much more.
If you want to feed crows insects, mealworm is a great alternative. You can find mealworms in most birdseed or stores.
Crows will wade into the water to eat small fish, crayfish, clams, or other aquatic animals. They often find shellfish and drop the shells onto rocks to break them open. When crows are hungry, they may resort to thievery working together to steal food away from predators.
Human Food and Garbage
Crows are not picky eaters and will feed on most foods, especially when their natural food sources become scarce. They are attracted to what humans eat and often search through garbage cans, parking lots, dumpsters, and more to find an easy meal. Crows will eat what humans leave behind because it is readily available and easy to acquire.
Crows are opportunistic feeders and are dependent on what food source is available. For the most part, crows eat what’s abundant in their habitat unless they find an easy meal. For that reason, they tend to stick with large food sources such as garbage when it’s available.
Some individuals will start compost bins to attract crows to their yard. This is a great option for backyard birdwatchers to attract crows. Ensure there is always a water source nearby, especially at locations where crows are commonly foraging or feeding.
Cat & Dog Food
Some people don’t know just how well crows feed on cat or dog food but leave some out for them, and they will definitely come to your backyard. Crows love the cat/dog food wet or dry, and they may even soak it in water before eating. It is always best to make sure there is a water supply nearby the food.
We have regular visitors from crows who enjoy our leftover dog food in our backyard and scavenge inside our building whenever they can to find it.
Crow Feeding Habits
Crows are primarily daytime foragers, meaning they spend their days looking for food and rest at night. They live together in flocks called murders, where they hunt and forage together. This is commonly done during Spring, the nesting season.
Crows search for food in groups and post sentries that watch for predators such as hawks while they forage for food. The sentries alert the feeding birds of danger when scavenging.
Crows are common birds due to the fact they are willing to eat anything. They will often eat things that we think are disgusting, such as garbage and decaying animals. Crows are common sights near trash cans and dumpsters and on the side of roads searching for roadkill.
Although crows are scavengers eating whatever is readily available, they are known for traveling as far as 40 miles each day from their roost to feeding sites.
Crows will scavenge when there is a large amount of food source available, such as feeding at a trash bin. Scavenging is an important part of a crow’s feeding habits as it is a way to find food when other food sources are depleted.
Crows spend the majority of their time hunting, looking, and foraging for food on the ground. Crows waddle when they walk and will also hop when looking for food. They find food by flipping leaves, stones, and bark or digging into the ground.
They are also famous for being egg thieves, looking in trees and bushes to find eggs and nestlings of other birds. Crows are intelligent birds known for dropping nuts or shellfish on the road and rocks to smash them so they can enjoy the tasty meat inside.
Many will agree that scavenging is unpleasant, but scavengers play an important role in our environment. Imagine if all the dead animals were just left to rot, it would be a smelly site. Without scavengers, important nutrients or minerals would not be recycled, back into another animal or plant. Scavenging is important in the cycle of life.
Another interesting fact about crows is that they are known for burying their food and coming back later to eat it.
Crow’s Diet By Species
Crows have over 40 different species. Crows’ daily diet varies by species. Some eat more grains or fish than mammals, while others prefer to scavenge for carcasses or garbage. This section will look at different types of crow diets by species and their feeding habitat.
|Type Of Crow||Diet|
|American Crow||Insects, worms, larvae, grains, nuts, fruits, young rabbits, mice, frogs, amphibians, carrion, stolen eggs, and other birds.|
|Pied Crow||Seeds, peanuts, fruits, birds, stolen eggs, carrion, lizards, mollusks, tortoises, and garbage.|
|Northwestern Crow||Insects, fruits, vegetables, berries, grains, crabs, fish, shellfish nuts, berries, seeds, stolen eggs, garbage, and carrion.|
|Cape Crow||Bulbs, fruit, seeds, beetles, amphibians, and chicks.|
|Fish Crow||Fish, crabs, carrion, shrimp, crayfish, berries, nuts, insects, seeds, bird eggs, turtle eggs, and garbage.|
|Hooded Crow||Carrion, insects, fruit, vegetables, berries, grain, seeds, small mammals, stolen eggs, chicks, kitchen leftovers, and garbage.|
|Torresian Crow||Grain, fruits, insects, stolen eggs, carrion, roadkill, and other invertebrates.|
What Do American Crows Eat?
One of the American crow’s most interesting features is its willingness to eat just about anything. Their diet includes insects(beetles, grasshoppers, spiders, and millipedes), worms, larvae, grains, nuts, fruits, young rabbits, mice, reptiles, amphibians, stolen eggs, and other birds. They also commonly feed on carrion.
American crows typically target small mammals, including mice, voles, and rabbits, as their prey. The American crow will also eat plant-based items such as peas, grapes, cherries, apples, and corn.
This crow is native to the North American region, specifically Canada and the contiguous United States.
American crows are found in open areas near trees and grasslands, but they can also be spotted in urban parks and suburban areas.
Although these crows are not endangered, they are listed as pests since their large population can damage crops, create a lot of noise, leave behind droppings that can spread disease, and scavenge through garbage.
What Do Pied Crows Eat?
Pied crows are omnivores, meaning that they feed on both plant and animal products. These crows typically eat seeds, peanuts, fruits, bird eggs, carrion (dead animals), lizards, mollusks, and tortoises in the wild. Pied crows are well known for eating garbage and food scraps in urban settings.
The pied crow is found throughout Africa. This bird species can live in various habitats, including tropical rainforests, grasslands, shrublands, inland wetlands, and artificial terrestrial and aquatic areas.
What Do Northwestern Crows Eat?
Northwestern crows feed on a vast range of insects, fruits, vegetables, berries, grains, crabs, fish, nuts, berries, seeds, shellfish, eggs, garbage, and carrion.
Northwestern crows are found along the northern Pacific coasts. They mostly inhabit urban areas and intertidal shores with some overlap in open woodlands and forests.
During the summer months, crows eat carrion, including roadkills and marine mammals. When winter comes, they will switch to fruit, vegetables, berries, and grains. People often feed these birds from their kitchens.
What Do Cape Crows Eat?
Cape crows are omnivorous and feed on a variety of foods. They include bulbs, fruit, seeds, dung beetles, small amphibians, and chicks.
The Cape crow, also known as the black crow, is normally found throughout South Africa. The Cape crow thrives in and around agricultural land.
Its habitat types include shrublands, grasslands, inland wetlands, mountain peaks, open savannah, and artificial/terrestrial lands.
What Do Fish Crows Eat?
Unsurprisingly, the fish crow enjoys a diet based on fish, crabs, shrimp, and crayfish. They also enjoy carrion, berries, nuts, insects, seeds, bird and turtle eggs, and garbage.
The crow is small and native to the southeastern parts of the United States. They inhabit farmlands, swamps, woodlands, river valleys, and tidewaters.
This species is typically found by water bodies, predominantly on the coasts. These locations are perfect foraging sites for this type of crow.
What Do Hooded Crows Eat?
The hooded crows are opportunistic feeders, meaning they feed on anything they can find. These crows feed on carrion, eggs, chicks, small mammals, birds, insects, berries, seeds, and fruits. Hooded crows are not scared of humans and approach crops, often damaging fields.
They are commonly spotted in cities and the countryside eating out of bowls belonging to domesticated pets. Hooded crows are often seen near highways, where they will lurk and wait for something to be hit by a car to feed on. In the spring, however, Hooded crows feed on almost exclusively vegetables.
What Do Torresian Crows Eat?
The Torresian Crow, which is found in Australia and Western Australia, eats the most grain of any other corvid. In addition to grains, it also eats fruit, insects, or invertebrates (such as grasshoppers), eggs from nests, and decaying animals known as carrion. Torresian crows are often seen near roadways, feeding on roadkill.
What Do Crows Eat In The Wild?
When natural crow habitat is present, the population is generally lower with more food competition from ravens, but they do well in the true wilderness without any farmers.
While their populations might be lower in the wilderness, this diversity also gives crows access to a wider variety of natural foods.
When crows adopt a more predatory lifestyle, they search for small insects (worms), small mammals, marine life, berries, fruit, seeds, snakes, amphibians, or eggs from other birds that are nesting nearby.
One big difference from a crow living in an urban environment is their diet. Though they still eat plenty of eggs and meat, these birds are well known for adapting to what is readily available in their current habitat.
Living near rivers and streams or even beaches is popular amongst many species of crow.
They like to eat what is available such as fish, shellfish, mussels, or anything that might have washed up on the shore. Marine life makes a huge difference to what crows eat and the focus of their diet.
There are different fish possibilities and shore dwellings from which a crow can choose so that it isn’t as dependent on humans for a variety of food.
What Do Crows Eat In The Winter?
The bulk of their diet during the winter consists mostly of grain and earthworms.
Hibernation is a natural way some animals stay warm during the winter. So, you may be wondering how do crows survive during harsh weather? Some crow species enter into a state called “torpor” that lasts for less than a day. This is where their bodies go inactivity for a period of time.
Crows can find enough food to survive the winter season, even without shutting their bodies down. Higher energy food such as seeds and insects may be retrieved from the ground with some effort. They will also take advantage of animals unable to survive the cold or roadkill known as carrion.
Crow Digestive System
Crows cannot chew their food, so they swallow it whole in chunks. Birds do not have teeth. Without teeth, a bird can’t chew its food like other wild animals. Instead, crows rely on a pouch in their stomach called the gizzard to crush their food. Like crows, omnivorous birds will eat small stones to help digest their food. Omnivorous meaning they enjoy many different types of food.
These small stones stay in the gizzard and grind up the crow’s food as the gizzard contracts. If a stone is too smooth and does not do its job, the crow will regurgitate the stone or pass it down through the digestive tract.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What do black crows eat?
Black crows are omnivores, meaning they will eat whatever they find. Black crows eat small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, eggs, carrion, human food, garbage, pet food, insects, seeds, nuts, grains, fruit, vegetables, and other birds.
What to feed crows?
Crows enjoy treats such as dog food, hardboiled eggs, or even something as simple as leftover bread (nothing with high sugar content). Always include healthy food choices such as unsalted nuts, seeds, vegetables, fruits, and unprocessed meat. Although crows love junk food, it is not the best option for them. By setting up a compost bin for food scraps such as vegetables and fruits, you can attract crows to feed in your backyard.
What are crows favorite food?
Crows will focus on the easiest and most accessible food sources in their environment when foraging. Some individuals believe that crows favor a certain type of food, as humans do. But in reality, crows favor what is available and the easiest to find.
Crows may show a strong liking to a certain food if they are regularly fed by humans daily. However, they are not very picky eaters, to say the least. Many crow enthusiasts have found crows to love eggs, unsalted peanuts, cat and dog food, corn, and chicken.
We have discovered that crows like to eat dog food in our backyard more than anything else because it is regularly available.
How to feed crows?
There are a few things you need to do to feed crows. First, create a quiet environment for the crows. You also want to find food that they will like and include some healthy choices. Establish a feeding routine, follow that routine daily and test out different food options.
You can put out different things every day for the crows to see what they like best. Always supply a birdbath or water source for crows when feeding them. Lastly, be patient and keep your distance when feeding crows.
How often should I feed crows?
Baby crows will need food available to them at all times so that they can grow. Feeding adults something more substantial twice per day will allow them to mimic their natural feeding habits. Maintaining a clean environment for wildlife is important, so it’s important to remove old food and trash regularly.
What should crows not eat?
As scavengers, crows will eat nearly anything they come across in the wild. You will even find crows eating human food and junk food. But it is not always the best option for their health to eat such food. As you might want to feed crows, it’s best to do so in a healthy way.
Always supply unsalted food sources, low sugar content, and foods that mimic their natural feeding habits in the wild.
Is feeding crows illegal?
It depends on where you live. In most areas, it’s explicitly forbidden to intentionally feed wild animals or leave out food if they become a nuisance.
Be sure to check what laws your area has in place before you start feeding crows.
Feeding crows may cause them to become dependent on humans for food. Feeding the birds regularly encourages them to stick around your yard instead of finding what they need elsewhere. As opportunistic eaters, they will often take advantage of an easy meal.
Crows are scavengers looking for scraps of food to eat. This behavior can create problems such as seeking out garbage, searching for food, or damaging property or land.
What do baby crows eat?
Once the eggs hatch, baby crows are known as nestlings. They will primarily eat regurgitated food from their parents or siblings every 30 minutes or so. As the nestling matures, they will switch to eating small bits of meat or insects from their parents or siblings. About 40 days is when nestlings will fledge and leave the nest.
They will continue to feed until about 60 days old and won’t leave the territory until years later. Baby crows are known for staying with their parents for a few years to help raise siblings.
How to feed a baby crow?
It is best to check your country/state’s law on feeding wild birds such as baby crows. The USA does not allow crows to be kept in captivity; it is illegal. If you see a baby crow on the ground, it is advised to leave it alone.
If you are trying to feed a baby crow, it’s best to mimic their food in nature by providing soft foods with high protein.
Do crows eat Hummingbirds?
Yes, crows will eat hummingbirds. Typically baby hummingbirds are their go-to as they are easy prey compared to adult hummingbirds. Adult hummingbirds are bigger and a lot harder to catch.
Do crows eat mice?
Yes, crows are omnivorous and pounce on small mammals like rats and mice. As opportunistic feeders, crows will hunt for whatever they can find, no matter the season.
Do crows eat acorns?
Crows eat a wide variety of nuts. They’ll eat on almonds, acorns, and walnuts as well as other nuts found in the region. Offering shelled nuts or unsalted peanuts makes an easy snack for wild crows. Crows are omnivorous and eat a variety of things, so it’s no surprise that they also enjoy acorns.
Crows are fascinating birds. They’re highly intelligent and can remember where they’ve found food in the past, which makes them very resourceful for finding meals. You may be surprised at what crows like to eat; while some of their favorite foods include eggs or fruit, they also enjoy eating garbage that humans leave behind.
Each crow species has its own favorite way to eat what it finds, whether it’s live or dead prey. All crows are opportunistic feeders, which means they’ll eat what’s easiest to get. If that happens to be a live snake or rodent or junk food, these intelligent birds won’t pass up the chance for their next meal.
You can easily feed crows in your backyard by leaving out what they’d normally eat in the wild, such as seeds and nuts. If you have bird feeders outside your house, crows won’t be common visitors. Instead, create a quiet environment away from other birds to feed crows.
What do crows in your yard (or neighborhood) love? Let us know with a comment below.