Loud, Curious American Crows: Most People Either Love Them or Hate Them
Crows Explore Everything!Click thumbnail to view full-size
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 FoodsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Crows Are Intelligent, With a Memory Like an Elephant and Eyes Like a Hawk
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.
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