Loud, Curious American Crows: Most People Either Love Them or Hate Them

Updated on February 24, 2019
Casey White profile image

Dorothy is a Master Gardener, former newspaper reporter, and the author of several books. Michael is a landscape/nature photographer.

Crows Explore Everything!

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The crows in our backyard only admired our suet feeders for a long time then finally decided they were ready to taste it.  Crows love to play with ice.  The sun hit this chunk of ice perfectly for this photograph of one of them picking up the ice.We had almost no bird activity on our birdseed bell so we finally took it down and put it on a tree stump at the back of our yard.  The crows pecked at it until it was completely gone.We wanted to find out what crows were willing to go through to get to one of there favorite snacks - peanuts.  So, we put several in a plastic container and put it out in the yard. They circled it, then got them all one by one.We put fresh water in our birdbaths every day.  This one is not heated so icicles form on the sides and the crows love to knock them off.It doesn't matter where you put a peanut in your yard; the crows will find it.  They pick up rocks in their beaks and move them when necessary.The snow is no deterrent to them if they think it has covered up peanuts or boiled eggs.  When it snows, all of them run around with white beaks.This crow apparently decided the suet on the bottom was just as good as that on the top.
The crows in our backyard only admired our suet feeders for a long time then finally decided they were ready to taste it.
The crows in our backyard only admired our suet feeders for a long time then finally decided they were ready to taste it.
Crows love to play with ice.  The sun hit this chunk of ice perfectly for this photograph of one of them picking up the ice.
Crows love to play with ice. The sun hit this chunk of ice perfectly for this photograph of one of them picking up the ice.
We had almost no bird activity on our birdseed bell so we finally took it down and put it on a tree stump at the back of our yard.  The crows pecked at it until it was completely gone.
We had almost no bird activity on our birdseed bell so we finally took it down and put it on a tree stump at the back of our yard. The crows pecked at it until it was completely gone.
We wanted to find out what crows were willing to go through to get to one of there favorite snacks - peanuts.  So, we put several in a plastic container and put it out in the yard. They circled it, then got them all one by one.
We wanted to find out what crows were willing to go through to get to one of there favorite snacks - peanuts. So, we put several in a plastic container and put it out in the yard. They circled it, then got them all one by one.
We put fresh water in our birdbaths every day.  This one is not heated so icicles form on the sides and the crows love to knock them off.
We put fresh water in our birdbaths every day. This one is not heated so icicles form on the sides and the crows love to knock them off.
It doesn't matter where you put a peanut in your yard; the crows will find it.  They pick up rocks in their beaks and move them when necessary.
It doesn't matter where you put a peanut in your yard; the crows will find it. They pick up rocks in their beaks and move them when necessary.
The snow is no deterrent to them if they think it has covered up peanuts or boiled eggs.  When it snows, all of them run around with white beaks.
The snow is no deterrent to them if they think it has covered up peanuts or boiled eggs. When it snows, all of them run around with white beaks.
This crow apparently decided the suet on the bottom was just as good as that on the top.
This crow apparently decided the suet on the bottom was just as good as that on the top.

Crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos) Are Protected

Crows . . . you can't get rid of 'em and you can't shoot 'em. Why? Because luckily they are protected under the federal Migratory Bird Act of 1918, which makes it illegal to harm one or destroy an active nest. If you are among those who love them, sorry, but it is also illegal to have one as a pet.

Our backyard murder (a group of crows is, indeed, referred to as a "murder") of about 40 crow visitors are about as close as we could come to having crows as pets. We could set our morning alarm by them, as they arrive (give or take about five minutes) promptly at 7 a.m. every day looking for the food we put out for them. Why do we feed them? Because they provide us, every morning without fail, about an hour of fun entertainment as they explore everything in every corner of our yard.

The crows were shy when they first began visiting but have become brave over the past few months, eating peanuts only a few feet from our bedroom window where we watch from the comfort of our bed.

All of the photographs used in this article were taken by Michael McKenney and are of the crows in our own backyard.

Boiled Eggs Are One of Their Favorite Foods

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The look in this crow's eyes says it all.  It is not about to share this boiled egg with anyone.Lately, we've been cutting up the boiled eggs into smaller pieces so more crows can enjoy them, but this photo was taken when we put them out halved.Our crows usually take their food up to our back wall to eat it away from their friends that are still back on the ground.  They really don't like to share.
The look in this crow's eyes says it all.  It is not about to share this boiled egg with anyone.
The look in this crow's eyes says it all. It is not about to share this boiled egg with anyone.
Lately, we've been cutting up the boiled eggs into smaller pieces so more crows can enjoy them, but this photo was taken when we put them out halved.
Lately, we've been cutting up the boiled eggs into smaller pieces so more crows can enjoy them, but this photo was taken when we put them out halved.
Our crows usually take their food up to our back wall to eat it away from their friends that are still back on the ground.  They really don't like to share.
Our crows usually take their food up to our back wall to eat it away from their friends that are still back on the ground. They really don't like to share.

Crows Are Intelligent, With a Memory Like an Elephant and Eyes Like a Hawk

Intelligence

We know first-hand that crows are intelligent, and although they don't like to share their food once they have it, there is always a sentinel looking out for predators as others eat. The natural enemies and main predators of crows are hawks and owls, and although we've never witnessed an owl in our neighborhood, there are several hawks that visit our yard regularly.

Larger hawks will attack, kill and eat them during the day, and owls will attack them at night when they are on their roosts. Mobs of crows, however, have also been known to attack hawks and owls but not to eat them. Often, an attack by several crows is enough to drive a potential predator out of the area. For the crows, it's all about survival.

Crows can remember the faces of the people who are good to them as well as those that pose a danger so remember that the next time you try to drive them out of your yard. Although uncommon, there have been reports of crows attacking people who have posed a threat to them in some way.

Are They Willing to Share?

When a crow discovers food, it will perch somewhere nearby and caw loudly until others come leading one to believe that they are willing to share food with others. The truth is, however, that they are more calling for reinforcements than anything else. Once other crows arrive, they begin eating the food and that's when the willingness to share ends. Crows, once they have a bite of something tasty, will either fly away to eat it in peace or eat it where they found it, fighting off any other crow that tries to get near it.

Remarkable Memory

We have put food out for the crows in many different sections of the yard and they are always able to find it. A single peanut could be hidden among the small pebbles in our yard and it's discovered immediately. If they have found food under rocks in the past, they will continue to move the rocks with their beaks to check underneath them for treats.

Food They Love

We have found that crows love cooked pasta, boiled eggs, and peanuts more than any other food. They will eat popcorn, but only after they've made sure that none of the aforementioned food was available to them. They also eat sunflower seeds and suet, as you can see from the photographs.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Mike and Dorothy McKenney

Comments

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    • Casey White profile imageAUTHOR

      Mike and Dorothy McKenney 

      2 months ago from United States

      This is something else that is interesting: We bought one single ear of corn yesterday, shucked it and put it outside. They pecked it until it looked like a human had eaten the whole thing. Apparently, they like raw corn on the cob! Try that also and let me know how your adventures work out.

    • Ellison Hartley profile image

      Ellison Hartley 

      2 months ago from Maryland, USA

      Can't wait to try it out and see if I can get some crows to hang out around our property.

    • Casey White profile imageAUTHOR

      Mike and Dorothy McKenney 

      2 months ago from United States

      When I first started putting the eggs out, I cut them up but left them in the shell. The crows will eat them any way you serve them up but I worried about them dropping eggshells in our neighbor's yard so now I peel the eggs and cut them up. Thanks!

    • Casey White profile imageAUTHOR

      Mike and Dorothy McKenney 

      2 months ago from United States

      They are pretty determined when it comes to the suet. Very entertaining. Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • Ellison Hartley profile image

      Ellison Hartley 

      2 months ago from Maryland, USA

      I didn't know they liked hard boiled eggs!! I will have to tell my dad to start putting some out at his bird feeders!!! I think they are really cool birds. I wouldn't mind if we had some that lived on our farm property, we don't see them a whole lot.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      2 months ago from Canada

      lol...yep I have my regular visitors to my suet as well.

    • Casey White profile imageAUTHOR

      Mike and Dorothy McKenney 

      2 months ago from United States

      I love them as well, but at this very moment there is one sitting in the tree right outside my patio doors yelling his head off! I wish I knew what they were "saying" to each other.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      2 months ago from Canada

      I am a big fan of crows they are one of my favorite birds although they can sometimes be too smart for their own good. Highly intelligent I love watching them.

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