What Do Crows Eat

What Do Crows Eat – 12 Types of Food They Like

Crows are opportunistic omnivores, which means they can eat a wide range of food. From fruits, vegetables, and insects to small reptiles, birds, and mammals, everything is on their diet list. They can also eat fish, seeds, garbage, and human food. 

Because of their versatile food list, crows usually do not run out of food sources. They can adapt to their environment and devour whatever food is available. Therefore, there is always enough food for them to lead healthy lives. 

They show both foraging and hunting behavior. Crows can victimize larger-sized animals, too, with continuous pecking. They use their intelligence to make tools to attract prey, which is their unique feature as birds.  

What Do Crows Eat?

These avians can eat a wide variety of food, so the list is quite large. Have a good look at it, and it will enhance your knowledge about these intelligent birds.

1. Fruits

Fruits are one of the major food sources for crows. They seem to like the juicy flavor of foods. They eat various kinds of fruits, such as:

  • Berries
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Melons
  • Plums
  • Mangoes, etc.

If crows find edible fruits other than the ones mentioned, they will eat them. They are not very choosy when it comes to eating. They often eat the seeds along with the fruits. However, they usually avoid the pits of fruits. 

2. Vegetables

Vegetables play a crucial role in a crow’s diet. It provides crows with essential nutrients for their health. It supports their feathers, bones, and immune system. Crows can eat many kinds of vegetables. A sample list looks like this:

  • Carrots
  • Peas
  • Corn
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Cabbage
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Zucchini

3. Insects

Fruits and vegetables cannot provide crows with all the nutrition they need for a healthy life. They also need protein. For that, crows eat insects. Insects are like a power-packed snack for crows. They can get necessary calories from insects that contribute to their growth, energy, and overall well-being. Crows enjoy different kinds of insects, including the following:

  • Beetles
  • Worms
  • Caterpillars
  • Grasshoppers
  • Ants
  • Moths
  • Spiders
  • Crickets
  • Flies
  • Dragonflies

4. Reptiles and Amphibians

It is not only the little insects that crows feed on. They can also take on bigger animals, like reptiles and amphibians. It is not just lizards or frogs we are talking about. They can also victimize venomous snakes. However, while choosing their prey, they may attack venomous animals, but not the poisonous ones. Small animals that crows consume are:

  • Snakes
  • Lizards
  • Frogs
  • Turtles
  • Newts
  • Salamanders
  • Skinks
  • Geckos
  • Chameleons
  • Slow Worms

5. Birds

Birds form a significant part of a crow’s diet. These birds provide both protein and diversity to their meals. Crows target a variety of birds as a source of essential nutrients. They usually attack birds that are smaller than them. They may try to steal baby birds when the parents are not around. 

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Birds that crows like to consume include:

  • Pigeons
  • Sparrows
  • Starlings
  • Blackbirds
  • Robins
  • Finches
  • Thrushes

6. Bird Eggs

Birds’ eggs are amongst the favorite foods of crows. Crows may steal the eggs from nests when the parent birds are not present in their habitat. This behavior is common among the American crows. These eggs are a primary food source for crows, offering proteins, fats, and various vitamins. Some of the eggs they commonly eat include:

  • Robin eggs
  • Sparrow eggs
  • Pigeon eggs
  • Blackbird 
  • Thrush 
  • Starling 
  • Finch 
  • Jay 
  • Magpie, and
  • Songbird eggs

7. Mammals

Mammals have a vital role to play in the crow’s diet. A crow can get proteins, fats, and other crucial elements necessary for their survival. The consumption of mammals also aids in maintaining a balanced ecosystem,

List of mammals commonly consumed by crows:

  • Rodents
  • Rabbits
  • Squirrels
  • Shrews
  • Hedgehogs
  • Bats
  • Possums
  • Rats
  • Mice
  • Moles

8. Fish

Crows not only hunt their prey in land or air. They are also a threat to small fishes living in water. Like mammals, fishes are also a good source of proteins, fats, and omega-3 fatty acids. Additionally, the presence of fish in the crow’s diet reflects their ability to thrive in diverse ecosystems. Here is a list of fish crows love to eat:

  •  Carp
  • Trout
  • Perch
  • Catfish
  • Bass
  • Minnows
  • Sunfish
  • Pike
  • Tilapia
  • Salmon

9. Mollusks

Mollusks are a common dietary inclusion in the food menu of crows. By eating these harmful animals for plants, crows contribute to their growth. Crows exhibit adaptability in their foraging habits, and mollusks are a readily available food source in various environments. Some of their favorite food items in this category are:

  • Snails
  • Slugs
  • Clams
  • Mussels
  • Oysters
  • Squid
  • Octopus
  • Cuttlefish
  • Abalone
  • Cockles

10. Carrion

Crows are known for circling places where they can find dead animals or carrion to eat. This is an easy source of food for them. They do not have to kill anyone to get the meat. When an animal dies or gets killed in the wild, crows fly in a circle around those dead animals. When predators leave, crows will take their share of flesh. 

They can eat carrions of almost any animal that is not poisonous.

  • Roadkill
  • Animal carcasses
  • Fish carcasses
  • Small mammal remains
  • Bird carcasses
  • Reptile remains
  • Insect remains
  • Decaying organic matter
  • Animal leftovers

11. Human Food

Crows have great adaptability. In urban areas, they often incorporate human food into their diet. Human food provides a diverse range of options for crows. It can be anything, from vegetables to fast food. Crows eat whatever they find. Sometimes, people throw treats at them, and crows peck and eat them. If you want to feed them, you can just give them about anything, such as:

  • Bread
  • French fries
  • Chips
  • Pizza
  • Burger scraps
  • Leftover takeout
  • Popcorn
  • Cereal
  • Nuts
  • Fruits and vegetables

12. Garbage

Along with being predators sometimes, crows are also scavengers. They can feed on garbage in urban environments. You may have noticed them flying around the garbage areas in cities and towns. Crows have a strong digestive system that can digest almost everything. When it comes to garbage, they can even consume spoiled vegetables. Here are the things they eat from garbage:

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  • Food scraps
  • Leftover meals
  • Spoiled or discarded fruits and vegetables
  • Packaging materials

How Do Crows Find Their Food?

Crows, especially American crows, express their intelligence when it comes to finding food. They live in colonies, and some birds are assigned the responsibility of searching for food if there is a scarcity in their old sources. 

  • Visual search is the primary method of finding food for them. Crows have excellent vision, and it helps them spot potential food sources from a distance. With their strong eyesight, they can identify items on the ground or in the water. 
  • They sometimes scavenge for scraps, leftovers, and discarded items in garbage areas in search of food. 
  • Crows like to eat insects, and for this reason, they forage on the ground. They probe with their sharp beaks to uncover insects, worms, and other invertebrates hiding in the soil. 
  • Crows also know how to use tools to their advantage. They may use sticks and leaves to make a tool that will help them catch prey. They even take help from cars to break nuts for them. 
  • Apart from their intelligence, crows have sharp memories. Once they find food from a place, they will return to the same place again and again. They can remember long-distance routes without getting lost.

How Do Crows Hunt?

Crows do not only scavenge or forage. They can also be hunters if needed. They often feed on other smaller animals. They may kill other birds, amphibians, and reptiles. Crows have a strong beak that they use as a weapon. They also take advantage of their nimble speed. 

Crows go near the prey and peck with their hard and strong beaks. They keep doing it until the victim is tired, exhausted, and sometimes severely injured. Using fly and peck techniques, they can even kill snakes. 

There are some other different methods to catch fish. They may choose dipping, stalking, baiting, or using a tool. 

  • Crows dip their beaks into the water to catch small fish near the surface. 
  • They are patient hunters and will wait for the perfect time to attack the prey.
  • Some crows also have mastered the skill of using baits to attract fish. They may drop insects, small objects, or even food scraps onto the water. This is an effective method to attract fish. 

How Do Crows Eat and Digest Their Food?

Crows eat almost whatever they find. This might lead you to wonder how they eat and digest the food. Crows eat different foods in different ways. They will peck and probe when eating invertebrates and small food items on the ground. 

They also use tools sometimes to deal with food that requires peeling or breaking. For example, they use different methods to break nuts. When feeding on carrion, crows tear apart the flesh using their strong beaks. Crows usually swallow their food. If it is an insect, they catch and swallow it up whole. Here is how the digestion happens:

  • After swallowing, the food enters the crop, which is a specialized pouch in their throats. The crop serves as a temporary storage organ. Because of this pouch, crows can consume large quantities of food quickly. 
  • From the crop, the food moves to the proventriculus. It is the glandular stomach. Here, digestive enzymes are secreted to begin breaking down proteins and other components of the food.
  • The next stop for food is the gizzard. It is a muscular stomach that assists in grinding down tougher materials like pits, seeds, and insect exoskeletons. Here, the food gets partially digested. 
  • The partially digested food then moves into the small intestine, where the rest of the digestion occurs. At this stage, nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream.

What Crows Cannot Eat?

At this point, you may wonder if there is anything that these avians cannot eat. Well, there are a few things that crows do not eat. You should not try to feed them these foods either. 

  • Avocado: Crows avoid these fruits as they contain persin, which can cause heart damage, breathing problems, weakness, and even death. Some avocados may not be harmful to crows, but it is difficult to identify the safe ones. Therefore, crows avoid eating this fruit. 
  • Caffeine: You should never offer coffee, tea, or other soft drinks to crows or other birds. These beverages are toxic for them and can lead to cardiac arrest. 
  • Chocolate: Crows may not avoid chocolates, but this is not a healthy dietary option for them. The presence of theobromine can cause issues like vomiting, diarrhea, and increased heart rate. 
  • Salty food: Like most other animals, salt is deadly for crows. They cannot eat any food containing salt. A small intake of salt can be fatal for them. 
  • Fruit pits: Crows eat different kinds of fruits and seeds. However, they avoid eating pits as they are neither tasty nor healthy for them. Some pits contain cardiac toxic cyanide compounds, which are harmful to avians. 
  • Onions and Garlic: Crows eat vegetables but not onions and garlic. Their digestive system is not developed to deal with such foods. The presence of sulfur in onions can irritate the taste buds of crows. Garlic contains different chemical compounds that weaken birds. 
  • Alcohol: Like most other birds, crows only need fresh water for hydration. Alcoholic beverages do not suit them. It makes them tipsy and often causes serious problems. 

FAQ

Is it OK to feed crows?

Yes, it’s generally okay to feed crows. They’re highly intelligent birds and can form bonds with humans. However, you should not offer them any food containing salt, alcohol, onions, chocolates, or caffeine. Give them fresh fruits, unsalted peanuts, bird seeds, etc. 

Will crows eat meat?

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Yes, crows are omnivores and will eat meat. They have a diverse diet, including insects, small animals, carrion, and even human-provided food. Offering them small pieces of cooked meat or other protein sources can be a part of their varied diet.

Can crows eat bananas?

Yes, crows can eat bananas. These fruits are safe and nutritious for crows. You can give them small pieces of banana as a treat. Avoid overfeeding them with bananas, as it can disrupt their nutrition balance. 

When do crows eat?

Pigeons are active during the day when they look for food and eat around. They are omnivores and can eat throughout the day. They are opportunistic feeders and may forage for food at various times. 

Do crows eat at night?

Crows are primarily diurnal, which means they are active during the day. They search for food, forage, scavenge, and hunt their prey mostly during the daytime. They usually do not eat at night. The night is for roosting and resting for them.

How do baby crows get food?

Baby crows are initially fed by their parents. The parent birds bring them a variety of food. It can be insects, small animals, and other suitable items. As they grow up, parent crows guide them to find food on their own. 

Conclusion: What Do Crows Eat!

Crows eat various kinds of foods, which make them highly adaptable to their environment. They can survive in different conditions and ecosystems. From hunting and foraging to human-given foods, they endeavor them all. However, there are a few certain types of foods that you need to avoid feeding them. Give them unsalted, sugar and caffeine-free foods; both you and the crows will enjoy it. 

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