While crows have traditionally been seen as carrion eaters, these intelligent birds will eat anything.
They have a diverse diet, and despite their sinister symbolism, they are sociable birds. I often get asked, “Just how do you know what to feed crows?”
This is what I answer:
What to Feed Crows?
Since crows are omnivores, they can eat anything. It’s vital to feed your local crows a balanced diet. However, they love pelleted cat and dog food. They also enjoy fruits and vegetables, seeds, and meats like chicken, turkey, and beef. They also love eating nuts. Be careful of spoiling them to one kind of food as this can cause nutritional deficiencies.
What to Feed Crows as a Balanced Meal
There is a range of feeds you can give your local friendly crow. A balanced feeding will include the following:
Fruits and Vegetables
Apples, grapes, cherries, corn, and peas are all good nutritional sources for crows.
Be sure to feed these cubed in smaller pieces so the crows don’t fight, or you’ll end up with a crow trying to fly off with a whole apple.
I often supplement fruits and vegetables with kitchen scraps that I lay out for the crows to feast on.
Meats and Insects
Crows will eat any meat you set out for them. They love chicken, livers, and other meaty cut-offs.
Be sure not to feed them small bones to prevent the adult crows from feeding these to a chick. Young chicks can get the bone jammed in their gullet.
If you are unsure, your local pet shop should stock a steady supply of crickets and mealworms, which are an ideal snack for crows.
As a bonus, these are rich in protein and closer to a crow’s natural diet than trying to feed them ham slices.
Depending on the crow species in your area, you can also feed them fish and eggs, which are also great protein sources.
Seeds, Grains, and Nuts
Like many birders, I feed the local crows a selection of seeds and nuts, including grains like rice, brown bread (which is rich in barley and wheat), and nuts like unsalted peanuts.
What to Feed Crow Chicks
Very young crow chicks, younger than six weeks, will require feeding by hand. You should make a mash that is rich in protein to encourage growth.
Try mashing up cooked oats, beef and turkey heart or liver, crushed eggshells, hard-boiled egg whites, baby cereal, soaked dog and cat food pellets, and even a healthy dose of avian vitamins.
Feed this mash with a small syringe, or you can feed it from the tip of your finger. Be sure to make the mash moist enough to stop the chick from choking.
When the baby crow is older than six weeks, it will be able to eat on its own. Simply put the mash down on a plate in their cage, adding live prey such as mealworms and crickets.
Instinct will take over, and crow babies will learn to feed themselves.
When to Feed Crows
In harsh winters or dry summers, crows are resilient creatures, and they usually don’t require assistance with surviving.
Yet, it can be kind to set up a feeding station and provide some supplemental feeding to help them during droughts and times of flood.
I find that watching crows feeding in your backyard can also be a fun activity to do with your family, and these darkly feathered birds can become quite used to you.
I have often found baby crows that have been orphaned or abandoned, and these require daily feeding to help them grow and thrive before they can be released into the wild.
Keeping crows as pets is illegal in most states in the U.S., but you can definitely help rear and rehabilitate orphaned crow chicks. Knowing what to feed them is important.
What Not to Feed Crows
I advise caution in feeding the following as these types of foods are not healthy for any bird, and these can cause a crow to sicken and die.
Salted and Processed Foods
While you may see a crow flap off with a packet of Doritos or Lays dangling from their beaks, feeding them salt-rich foods is ill-advised.
Salt is bad for a bird. It causes them to dehydrate, develop blood pressure or electrolyte problems, and they can quickly suffer kidney failure.
Processed foods like jerky, cheese, and dairy produce are often rich in salt, and you should avoid feeding these to crows or any other bird for that matter.
Yes, I know, crows eat roadkill that may have been there, spoiling in the hot sun for days; however, you shouldn’t feed crows spoiled food.
The bacterial load of spoiling food is not healthy for birds, nor is it healthy for crows.
Dry Dog or Cat Food Pellets
Always soak any dog or cat food pellets you feed crows. While the adult crows will be wise enough to soak it in water before swallowing these, their young won’t.
Crow chicks can easily choke on dry pellets if they greedily gulp these down. Rather soak pellets in hot water for a few minutes, and once cooled, serve them at your crow feeding station.
After a day or two, if these haven’t been eaten, you should remove them to prevent spoiling.
While I know you may want to share your birthday cake with your local murder of crows, it’s not advisable.
Sugar and processed flour are not healthy for crows, and they can quickly become blocked and suffer constipation if they gorge on these.
Just because you’ve seen a crow fly off with a donut from the park isn’t a good reason to feed them sweets and confectionery.
You can rather feed them brown or whole wheat bread and rusks than white bread or confectionery treats.
Frequently Asked Questions about What to Feed Crows
What can I feed wild crows?
You can safely feed crows unsalted fruits, nuts, seeds, and meats. They love protein sources like insects and meaty leftovers. Avoid feeding them processed meat like ham and beef jerky.
What are crows’ favorite food?
Crows love to eat dog and cat food pellets that are water-soaked. These are high in protein and vitamins, making them healthy food sources for crows.
What is poisonous to crows?
While crows can eat apples, you should offer them these peeled and cored to remove any seeds that can contain cyanide.
The Final Flight
Crows are resilient birds, and they can scavenge on anything they find from what they can find in trash cans to the leavings of picnics at park grounds and even roadkill.
Yet, if you choose to feed your local crows, you should exercise caution to only feed them food that is appropriate and safe for these omnivores to eat.