It is no secret in the bird world that crows are some of the most intellectually advanced birds. These clever birds have been known to use strategies and tricks to scavenge for food. They are also the opposite of picky and will eat pretty much anything they can find. Scientists have found that crows consume over 600 different types of food sources.
A crow’s diet widely varies as they need to eat at least 12 ounces of food per day. These clever birds tend to eat nuts, small insects, berries, and even amphibians such as frogs and salamanders, while eating the majority of their food in the morning!
Crows also have typical feeding patterns and are known to bulk up in the colder months when crops and insects are more scarce. They know to work smarter not harder, and when they find an abundant food source they use that to their advantage.
Crows Seek Out Abundant Food Sources
Crows will truly eat almost anything and everything. In order to keep up with their dietary needs, they need to eat around 10 to 12 ounces of food per day. This means they are constantly on the lookout for food to help meet this need.
Scientists have noticed that there seems to be a trend with when crows eat and the types of food they choose to eat.
While digging in the trash is one of their common activities, they are often focused more on finding insects, nuts, and fruits.
Where Do Crows Eat?
According to researchers at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, crows have hangout spots where they know they can find an abundance of food to help them survive.
These birds truly use their intelligence to their advantage and even stake out locations with the best food sources.
They will often set up their roosts near abundant food sources to give them easy access to the source as well as a water supply.
They Find Food In A Variety Of Places
In urban areas, they flock to landfills and dumpsters to dig through the trash for food.
And in rural areas, they are often seen in fields full of crops getting their fair share of different fruits, grains, and vegetables for food.
These larger birds have to eat quite a bit to get to their 12-ounce required sustenance needs which is one of the main reasons they are known to eat almost anything!
Crows Enjoy Feasting on Fruit, Nuts, and Seeds
Although crows are omnivores, a large portion of their diet comes from fallen fruit, nuts, and seeds. Remember that they tend to find most of their food on the ground which makes seeds and fallen nuts an ideal option for these birds.
If you have a bird feeder out, they are likely to be some of the first birds to try and eat from the feeder.
If you are trying to keep crows away from your fruit trees and plants, one option is to provide an area where they can feast on nuts and seeds as a distraction.
This Wild Bird Seed Mix is great to spread in a location away from where the fruit is growing and can help distract the crows from eating what you are growing.
Do Crows Love Corn As Much As People Think?
When you ask someone what they think crows eat, they will likely say roadkill, trash or corn.
So do crows really love corn as much as people think? Well, yes and no. It depends on where they live and set up their roost.
While crows have been infamous for devouring corn crops, hence the name for the iconic scarecrows that are used by farmers, it matters more about their current location for their feeding habits.
If you’ve got crows cawing near your corn, take a look at our guide on the 7 ways to scare them away!
Crows Focus On What’s Near Them!
While it is true that crows love to eat corn and other grains, it is also true that they won’t go out of their way to find corn or other crops.
Because crows eat such a varied diet, they will focus on food near them.
So if you see a crow in an urban area, it is unlikely to travel a long distance out of town just to go find some corn.
Crows Try to Bulk Up in the Fall and Winter Months
While crows don’t hibernate, they are smart enough to know that many of their food sources will become scarce during the colder months.
These quick-thinking birds have been known to hoard seeds and store them in specific locations during winter months.
Crows rely heavily on plants, crops, and seeds as part of their diet. Since these sources are not as readily available in the fall and winter, they tend to eat more during the spring and summer months.
Crows Can Consume A Record Amount of Insects In One Day
Did you know that a crow may eat up to 40,000 insects in one day?
Researchers at Utah State University have noted that a crow’s diet may consist of ⅓ of their daily consumption being animals and insects.
While some birds are more particular with the type of insects they eat, a crow’s insect diet is widely varied. The insect diet of crows consists of anything from worms, grubs, grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars, spiders, and even snails. Conversely, crows are often on the food chain of other animals as well!
When a crow finds a location near their roost that is overflowing with insects, they are likely to target that spot multiple times to get their fill of food – which actually helps gardeners!
Crows Are Actually A Farmer’s Friend (Sort Of)
While many farmers and gardeners find crows to be a major nuisance, they can actually be quite beneficial to crops and gardens.
Crows tend to be ground feeders more than anything else. In other words, they are constantly seeking out insects within the soil and on top of the dirt.
This means that many of the insects they are eating are the ones that are actually harming the crops and plants, like grasshoppers and beetles which can cause significant damage to plants and crops when they are in abundance.
So while it may feel like a nuisance to have crows around, keep in mind that they can also be helpful when they are eating the insects that are harming your plants, for more info on the benefits of crows – head on over to our article about the pros vs. cons of having crows around!
Human Trash and Animal Food Are Some of A Crow’s Easier Food Sources
Before humans began urbanizing cities, crows had to fend for themselves more and focused on targeting gardens and crops. But now that there is an abundance of garbage throughout many urban areas, crows have their choice of what to eat for the day.
According to researchers at American Tarantula and Animals, crows love to eat from the trash can. They are also big fans of dog and cat food, so any little remnants of your pet food will be quickly picked up by these cunning birds.
While crows are typically harmless, it is understandable that you may not want a flock of them picking at your trash every morning.
Crows Search For Prey to Survive
While crows are known for their aggressive and intelligent behavior, many people don’t realize that hunting is also part of their skill set. Although it isn’t as common, in the winter months crows have been known to hunt smaller mammals to help themselves survive.
Crows have also been seen eating smaller birds as well as their eggs. So if you have a bird’s nest with babies or eggs waiting to hatch, you may need to protect it from crows.
Reflective Scare Tape is an effective tool to use to help protect bird’s nests as well as other locations around your property that you want crows to stay away from.
Effective Tools to Deter Crows
If you are looking for ways to move crows away from certain locations on your property, you may have to find ways to outsmart these clever birds.
Experts have found that one of the most effective tools in dispersing crows is using scare tactics. In fact, we have an entire article dedicated to ways to scare crows away that we recommend you check out!
Just remember, if you have a crow problem on your property to contact a professional for help immediately. Crows can be challenging.
Distress Calls Can Keep Them Away
One of the more effective strategies is playing crow distress calls.
Crows instinctively want to protect themselves, so when they hear another potential member of their roost in distress they will vacate the location.
This Electronic Bird Repeller works well for not only crows but blackbirds as well.
Reflective Objects Work Too!
You can also use the classic reflective object trick too.
This is where you hang tin plates or aluminum foil as crows are scared off by the reflective materials.
While crows are clever, it is possible to push them out using scare tactics to help protect your plants and crops.
A Quick Recap!
Crows tend to have a negative reputation but they are actually interesting and intelligent members of the bird community.
They do eat a lot, but because of their varied diet, you can often help entice them to different diet choices if you are trying to protect nests or crops on your property.
Crows have a wide variety of things that they will eat, let’s quickly go over that!
- While crows do love to dumpster dive and eat trash, this is not always their first choice and is truly location-dependent.
- When crows do go through human trash, they love to find animal food and fruit and vegetable leftovers.
- Crows consume a third of their diet with insects alone and can actually be beneficial to some crops by ridding them of harmful insects such as destructive beetles and caterpillars.
- Fruit, nuts, and seeds are some of a crow’s favorite food selections. They are easy to access and often come in abundance to help them get to their 12-ounce daily food intake.
- During winter months crows may hunt smaller birds and mammals to ensure they are able to eat.
- Crows also store seeds during winter months to have a stash to eat from when food sources are scarce.
- Although it doesn’t happen as often, sometimes crows will hunt smaller birds or mammals in order to find food to eat.
Kalmbach, E. R. (1939). crow in its relation to agriculture (Vol. 1102). US Government Printing Office.
Johnson, R. J. (1994). American crows.
Sullivan, K. L., Curtis, P. D., & Pezzolesi, T. (2008). Crows. Cornell Cooperative Extension, Wildlife Damage Management Program New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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