What are some good things to offer crows?
May 12, 2020 3:38 AM   Subscribe

I set up a bird table recently, and it's being regularly visited by a few crows. I'd like to continue to give them things without making them dependent.

Originally, I was putting out muesli mixed with a little Trex to make fat balls, but as the weather warmed up (and a pair of wood pigeons started dominating the place), I've switch to larger nuts and berries. I currently put out half a dozen unsalted peanuts in shells, and a bowl of water each day, which the crows in particular seem to really enjoy.

Assuming I'm not going to ruin their natural development, I'd welcome any suggestions for things they might find interesting, including food or toys like a crowbox.
posted by lucidium to Pets & Animals (16 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Crows are omnivores and really appreciate bits of meat or cheese or egg when they are available. Pro: will not appeal to doves. Con: may attract bugs/cats/rats, so remove promptly anything that’s uneaten.
posted by fancyoats at 5:05 AM on May 12, 2020 [3 favorites]

In folklore, or maybe the comics, crows are associated with corn. In real life, I've seen them feeding on roadkill.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:25 AM on May 12, 2020

Best answer: The birds around my house like bits of yarn or anything that makes good nesting material.
posted by Alison at 6:13 AM on May 12, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Our crows love peanuts in any form, and any kind of nut in the shell, also fruit. As fancyoats says, they do like egg and meat bits and such. Some info.
posted by gudrun at 6:45 AM on May 12, 2020 [2 favorites]

Mine like crackers to put in the bird bath to make crumbs and scum. They also like bread and walnuts. I've seen them eat roadkill and rats, but I don't want to set up a feeder for that so they get bread mostly.
posted by fiercekitten at 8:08 AM on May 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I feed a pair of crows/ravens that visit me once or twice a week. Their favorite thing is unsalted peanuts in the shells. I feed them a few when they let me know they are around but don't otherwise leave the peanuts out in order not to attract squirrels, other birds, rats, possums, etc etc
posted by crayon at 8:08 AM on May 12, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: i would leave them some kind of small tools so that they could further their quest to make corvid society more technologically advanced than ours
posted by poffin boffin at 8:12 AM on May 12, 2020 [47 favorites]

Best answer: An anecdote told me by a lifelong resident of Juneau, Alaska. The city staff noticed one parking meter for which the collections declined. Was there a light-fingered employee? They set up a camera and discovered that a raven (a close relative of crows, both esteemed as intelligent) had figured how to fish quarters out of the meter. After they followed her/him, they found a hill of quarters on the corner of the roof of a downtown building.

So, maybe leave some small change.
posted by tmdonahue at 9:08 AM on May 12, 2020 [10 favorites]

Best answer: When you put out the food give them a call. I call hey guys! and give a whistle. They started following my car as a drove in or out of the neighborhood swooping in front to make sure I saw them. (Yes, I started keeping peanuts in the car). If they are tame enough to come to the table, I am sure they will come in from the trees when you call. I felt like Khaleesi. (I offer buttered bread, cheese, nuts, and a bit of meat. )
posted by ReluctantViking at 9:10 AM on May 12, 2020 [12 favorites]

Best answer: Crows are the best. My mom has two of them tethered to her beck and call once she steps outside on to the deck with a series of whistles that alert them.

She brings out shelled unsalted peanuts which they really enjoy.

I'm amazed by their size -- some of them almost as big as a newborn. Wonderful creatures.
posted by zenpop at 9:18 AM on May 12, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: My father has a small but devoted crow following. He puts out peanuts still in the shell outside his house and also carries them in his pocket on walks.

One day he was at the beach and there was a crow on the picnic table near him. The crow noticed that my father had a crow feather in his hat, so the crow pulled out one of her own feathers, laid it down on the table, hopped down to the other end of the table, and waited. My father took the feather and left a handful of peanuts in the same spot, then continued his walk while the crow feasted on the peanuts.

When he told me this story, I congratulated him on successfully establishing trade relations with a non-human society.
posted by Jacqueline at 1:22 PM on May 12, 2020 [46 favorites]

Best answer: They also like cracking open sunflower seeds. Seconding peanuts. If you have leftover fatty bits of meat that you don't like, they want it. They also appreciate a drink, but the water gets pretty dirty with all the stuff they dip into it. It's like a bowl of soya sauce for their bread sashimis.

In many Tamil families, crows are fed at wakes. You put out a banana leaf with the favorite foods of the deceased and let them have a go.

But don't be surprised if the crow brings you things too. I had one bring a twig with pretty flowers on it soon after I started laying out food.
posted by kolendra at 1:30 PM on May 12, 2020 [14 favorites]

Best answer: Shiny things please . . .
posted by Corvid at 2:24 PM on May 12, 2020 [36 favorites]

Best answer: My two crows love unsalted peanuts but they also really like small cat kibble. I don't leave it out for all the animals, I wait for them to ask. They're very quick to spot and test patterns, so it's easy to get a shared signal going. I started by throwing a handful of peanuts when one got bold enough to sit in a closer spot on my shed. Then I just had to do it every time they sat in that spot, and not when they didn't. They learned it really fast, and it's funny to see them testing exactly how far away from that spot they can sit and still get fed. Sometimes when they see me they'll fly down to a nearby spot and wait a few minutes. When I don't respond, I swear I can see the heavy sigh, ok fine, and dramatic march over to the right spot.

I was initially doing it only at a certain time of day, too, and they'd be there on time every day like clockwork, but then I was unable to hold up my end of the deal for a while and just went back to anytime is ok, but must be the right spot.
posted by ctmf at 6:55 PM on May 12, 2020 [4 favorites]

>i would leave them some kind of small tools so that they could further their quest to make corvid society more technologically advanced than ours
They like futures contracts but bond trading less and their home computer revolution is getting started with internetworking. However, there's misinformation going round that they hope to jump straight to 5G network infrastructure, that's so last year: Corvid-19.
posted by k3ninho at 10:19 PM on May 12, 2020 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the ideas and reassurance that this is a fun thing to do! Here's my crow tax: Corvid-19.

I've seen three crows at once, and I think they're a family. I'm going to call them Peanuts, Monkey and Kacang Tanah. When things calm down and I can order silly things again, I'm definitely going to try to build some crow puzzles for them.
posted by lucidium at 11:06 AM on May 15, 2020 [3 favorites]

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