As a backyard birdwatcher, there’s nothing more fascinating than observing our feathered friends’ diverse and intricate behaviors. One bird in particular, the crow, has always piqued my interest with its intelligence, social behavior, and dynamic diet.
Whether you’re a seasoned birdwatcher or just starting to explore the world of birds and their diets, you may have wondered, ‘What do crows eat?’
Get ready to dive into the fascinating world of crow cuisine, where the menu is always diverse, and the options are always surprising.
What do crows eat?
Crows are omnivorous birds, and their diet consists of both plant and animal material. They typically eat insects, nuts, fruits, seeds, eggs, and other small animals in the wild. They will also scavenge for food on carrion or garbage dumps.
The reason for their preference for certain foods can vary from species to species. In some cases, it’s due to the accessibility of the food.
For instance, crows living in areas with many forests will eat more insects than those living near agricultural land with plenty of crops to feast on.
In other cases, their diet is determined by what’s available to them at different times of the year. Crows eat almost anything, but the following 18 foods are typically on the menu.
18 Foods Crows eat in the wild
Crows are omnivores, and seeds make up a big part of their diet. Crows eat various seeds, but a favorite is Black oil sunflower seeds.
Crows tend to prefer large seeds like sunflowers because they are easier to crack open.
Crows will eat various nuts found in the wild, but they particularly enjoy shelled or unshelled peanuts.
Peanuts are rich in protein and fat, which makes them an ideal snack for crows. Other types of nuts enjoyed by crows include almonds, cashews, walnuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, and macadamia nuts.
If you have a backyard feeder, never feed birds salted nuts. Highly salted foods can cause severe health problems.
Crows enjoy a variety of insects in the wild, particularly more significant insects such as beetles, locusts, spiders, worms, grubs, and crickets.
They also eat caterpillars, moths, and butterflies when the opportunity presents itself.
Crows have a fondness for corn, particularly sweetcorn. They enjoy eating the kernels from either fresh or dried ears of corn.
Crows will also eat popcorn, cracked corn, and even popcorn kernels discarded by humans.
Crow’s fondness for eating corn and other grains is why farmers dislike them.
Crows will frequently feed on grain in the months when it is readily available. Rice, wheat, millet, milo, and barley are particular favorites.
Crows will also eat bread, cereal, and pastry crumbs left behind by humans.
Crows will willingly feed on fruit when presented with the opportunity, especially wild fruits such as grapes, cherries, figs, bananas, and apples.
Crows love eating berries, and these sweet treats make up a significant part of their diet.
Crows enjoy eating wild berries such as blueberries, juniper berries, strawberries, and bayberries.
We have also seen them eating Red Osier Dogwood berries in the late summer and early fall.
8. Carrion (Dead Animals)
Crows will often be seen feeding on dead or decaying animals they can find in the wild. These dead animals are usually small enough for the beaks to pull bits of flesh off or swallow them whole.
Animals include dead mice, amphibians, reptiles, or young birds falling from nests.
You will also see crows eating small roadkill left behind by humans driving.
9. Small Reptiles
Crows occasionally eat small reptiles such as lizards, snakes, and turtles.
These animals are usually consumed whole or in pieces depending on their size.
Crows sometimes hunt for small reptiles if the opportunity is there, but they are more likely to eat one if another animal or person has already killed it.
10. Small Birds & Nestlings
Crows are opportunistic feeders but sometimes prefer to hunt for their food. They often feed on smaller birds and nestlings they can snatch from nests.
We have seen a pair of crows hunt down and steal the chicks from a sparrow’s nest. One drew the parents away from the nest while the other snuck in and flew away with the nestling.
11. Bird Eggs
Crows are known to eat the eggs of other birds. When a crow finds an unguarded nest in their territory, it will take the opportunity to help itself to the egg or eggs inside.
They will sometimes work in pairs to draw the parent’s attention away from the nest while the other swoops in and steal the eggs.
Crows are known to eat a variety of marine invertebrates, including crabs, crayfish, shrimp, and mollusks.
Crabs are the most popular invertebrates for crows to eat, but they are also known to enjoy other varieties, such as shrimp and mollusks.
Amphibians like frogs and salamanders are also a favorite food for crows.
A crow can easily snatch them from the water or hunt down on land with their sharp eyesight and powerful beak.
Some species like the Fish Crow are particularly good at catching or scavenging amphibians such as frogs, toads, and salamanders.
14. Small Mammals and Rodents
Crows eat small mammals, such as voles, squirrels, and mice.
Crows often work together to capture and devour small rodents such as squirrels, baby rabbits, and mice. We have witnessed a murder of crows catching and consuming a small vole.
They sometimes hunt for these animals or scavenge them from a fresh kill. In some cases, crows may even steal food away from other predators like hawks or owls.
15. Marine Life
Specially adapted crows living near the ocean hunt for and consume fish, clams, mussels, and other marine life.
The Fish Crow and Northwestern Crow are excellent examples of crow species that have adapted to living close to the shoreline and taking advantage of its abundant food source.
Crows also enjoy eating snails, a common food source in many parts of the world.
They will often hunt for snails in the garden or scavenge them from the ground. In some cases, they may even steal them away from other predators like hedgehogs.
17. Pet Food
Crows will scavenge pet food from an uneaten dog or cat bowl around the yard.
They often prefer the wet, canned varieties found in most pet stores because these types of food are easier for them to break down and consume with their beaks.
Crows will also take advantage of the scraps found in garbage cans, which is why you’ll often see them rummaging through trash looking for a meal.
Crows love to rummage through trash for human leftovers like fast food, spoiled food, and leftover snacks such as popcorn, crackers, and chips.
What do Crows eat in the garden?
Crows are often seen as a nuisance when it comes to being around people’s gardens, and while they seem to have an ominous presence, sometimes they are pretty helpful.
Crows will eat insects from time to time, usually foraging on the ground and around plants that regularly attract insects. Insects like beetles, snails, and worms can be destructive to fruits and vegetables, so eating these insects can be helpful.
At the same time, though, Crows have been known to eat some fruits and grains, so while they can help remove destructive pests from destroying someone’s garden, they may still eat the fruit or berries someone is trying to grow.
Crows may also eat leftover pet food that your dog or cat still needs to finish.
What do Crows eat in the grass and on the ground?
Crows often forage on the ground, grassy areas, and rocks. When feeding their young or looking to find food, they are known to eat small mammals such as mice or voles that live underground.
They may also feed on dead animals lying around if the opportunity is there.
Crows will also eat a variety of insects they can snatch from the grass, such as grasshoppers, beetles, crickets, caterpillars, and dragonflies. They will also eat grubs and beetles they can forage on the ground.
Crows will also consume seeds from various types of grass as well as some fruits and berries growing on the ground.
What do Crows Eat in Winter
Crows are exceptionally well suited to survive in most climates around the world. Their omnivorous diet, adaptability, and opportunistic nature allow them to find food all year round.
Crows will eat energy-dense foods such as seeds, nuts, and fruits in winter. They will also scavenge for food on dead animals, garbage cans in urban areas, and even visit bird feeders to get a meal.
What do baby crows eat?
Baby crows eat the same things as adult birds but in smaller quantities. What they eat depends on their age and time of year. They need plenty of protein and water to survive to maturity.
In the first couple of weeks, crow parents feed their babies regurgitated or partially digested food. This partially digested food will usually be insects and meat from small lizards, frogs, and baby birds.
When the babies are a little older and more robust, they eat solid foods that their parents bring back to the nest. Solid foods include torn pieces of meat from tiny animals and insects, seeds, fruits, and other vegetation.
The parents will continue to feed their young until they can fly and join the rest of the murder.
A group of crows is called a “murder.” There are several different explanations for the origin of this term, primarily based on old folk tales and superstitions. – PBS.org
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What Do American Crows Eat?
American Crows will typically eat earthworms, insects, small animals such as rodents, reptiles, amphibians, smaller birds, and bird eggs. They will also feed on garbage and dead animals when given the opportunity. In winter, American Crows typically eat seeds, grain, and fruit they can find in the wild or at bird feeders.
What Do Fish Crows Eat?
Fish crows will typically eat animals found in or near water, such as shrimp, crabs, crayfish, amphibians, and small fish. They will also eat insects, nestlings, bird eggs, food found in the garbage, and carrion when the opportunity presents itself. In winter, Fish Crows typically eat seeds, grain, and fruit.
What Do Northwestern Crows Eat?
Northwestern Crows have a very similar diet to the Fish Crows since they live along the northwestern coast of British Columbia and Alaska. They will eat crabs, shellfish, mussels, and stranded or dead fish.
What Do Hooded Crows Eat?
Hooded Crows are a Eurasian crow species and typically eat small mammals, reptiles and amphibians, insects, crabs, mollusks, and dead animals. When the parents are away, they steal the eggs and nestlings from coastal birds such as gulls and puffins.
What Do Torresian Crows Eat?
Torresian Crows live in Australia, and their diet consists of insects, fruit, seeds, eggs, and young birds. They will also eat small mammals such as mice or bats if they can catch them.
What Do Pied Crows Eat?
Pied crows are found in Africa and primarily feed on the ground. Their diet includes insects, small mammals (including roosting fruit bats), reptiles, amphibians, nestlings, bird eggs, and carrion. They are also known to eat grains, fruits, and human foods when they can find them.
What Do Cape Crows Eat?
Cape crows live in Southern Africa, and their diet is very similar to the Pied Crow, with a few exceptions. They also eat invertebrates, bulbs, and fleshy roots of plants, berries, nuts, and other fruits when they can find them.
So, What do Crows Eat?
Crows are omnivores, meaning their diet consists of meat and plant foods. What a crow eats depends on what is available at any time.
When available, they will forage and hunt for many foods, including insects, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, nestlings, bird eggs, fruits, berries, human leftovers, and carrion.
When times get tough, or there’s not much out there for them to feed on, they’ll resort to eating whatever natural food source is readily accessible, such as nuts or seeds from plants growing nearby.
As we’ve seen worldwide, crows are incredibly resourceful and adaptive when it comes to finding food so they can survive.
While some of their dietary habits may be considered destructive, they provide a valuable service to the environment by keeping insect populations in check and cleaning up dead animals and human garbage.
So next time you see a crow feeding, remember that it’s not just a scavenger looking for an easy meal but a hard-working bird doing its part for the ecosystem.
If you have any experience watching crows feed, let us know! We would love to hear about your knowledge and practical experience that we can share with our other readers. Learning is a shared experience!
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