16

There are some big raven's I've noticed visit our housing estate in the early am. They're big majestic birds and I quite like them. What food would you put out to encourage these into your garden?

Will they be noisy? They seems fine now, but having lived by a rookery in the past I know the noise they can make can be pretty loud.

14

We love crows! I live in America, where there are three main breeds of crow, including American Crows, Fish Crows, and Northwestern Crows. They're a bit different from the Common ravens, and other ravens, found in some other parts of the world. Although there are many varieties of each, their diets are fairly similar, so to make it easy for me, I'll call them all crows from here on!

Crows are omnivores, and variety is important for their health. Their staple diet, however, is meat in many forms. Since other answers and comments have thoroughly covered that, I'll add a few other things that may work for you.

Seeds and nuts: In my experience, like yours, crows don't really like bird seed, especially the small seeds we feed the songbirds. They will eat larger seeds, though, like sunflower, (which are plentiful in my yard as that's what we feed our birds year-round) and pumpkin. Crows love nuts! We feed whole, unsalted peanuts in the shell. They take one, crack it on a nearby rock, and pick out the nuts. If we try to make it easier by putting out individual nuts, they will eat them, but if we feed both, they always choose the whole. The same is true of walnuts and almonds, so there must be a desire to work for their food, which probably stems from the same instinct as pulling apart road kill.

Berries and fruit: For much of the year, crows easily find berries and fruit on their own. They'll eat almost any wild food growing on trees in the woods, or on bushes or vines around your yard. Even things that are poisonous to people are fine food for crows. Some examples are poison oak, sumac, dogwood, and pokeberry. If you've invited crows into your yard, make sure to provide fruit year-round. Grapes, cherries, apples, cranberries, blueberries and figs are all good choices. Our crows won't eat anything in the citrus family, but your birds might.

Grains: Our crows love dehydrated corn. We sprinkle loose kernels from a bag around the yard, and they're gone in a flash! The same corn is available on the cob. These are multi-purpose. Many of our larger birds like them, and they're a huge favorite of other backyard visitors, especially squirrels and chipmunks. I've read that crows like other grains like barley and wheat, but I haven't tried those.

Miscellaneous: Our crows like whole hard-boiled eggs. We take the shells off, but it's probably not necessary. Crows also eat a variety of things that wash up on the beach. I wonder what the fish-equivalent name is to road kill. Maybe ocean kill?! You could try putting out dishes of fish carcass and leftover raw shellfish, but I haven't done it.

Backyard: Lots of living things in the yard appeal to crows, including insects, worms, spiders and small animals like frogs. Contrary to what some people say, crows can benefit the yard, as they eat the types of grubs and insects that endanger plants and food crops. They do eat some rodents, small birds, and nest eggs, but if we keep the crows well-fed, our other creatures are safer than we think.

As @michael mentioned, crows are very intelligent, and ravens even moreso. They're also quite sociable, and are content to let you sit nearby while they wander around the yard. A friend of mine in Florida has a crow that will take a nut or hunk of meat right out of her hand. Establishing a relationship like that takes time, but is well worth it!

As for being noisy while they eat, I haven't found that to be true. They may squawk when they're hungry, but they seem to make more noise in the trees than on the lawn, or at the feeding areas in our yard. I happen to love the sound, but I love all animal sounds, so I might not be the right one to give you an opinion! Ravens seem to have a wider variety of calls than crows, some being less ear-piercing and more tolerable.

The diet we use was chosen from a number of sources, and customized by trial and error. The sources include, but are not limited to:
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
How to Attract Crows to Your Backyard
The Language of Crows
Audubon Bird Guide

I hope things that have worked for us will help you. Please let us know!

  • 3
    I have to add that I love crows. A crow, when he spies food, will perch on a branch and "caw" his flock in. When West Nile Virus took down the crow population about 15 years ago, it was sad. The crow population around here started to rebound about 5 years ago. And a raven (not a crow) in the wild -- enormous and wild! – ab2 Oct 25 '15 at 0:43
  • 3
    There are ravens in the US, as well as crows. Outside Las Vegas, NV, the ravens were quite common. – Karen May 17 '16 at 17:06
10

Crows and ravens are opportunistic foragers, meaning they eat carrion, rodents, steal eggs and nestlings, insects, etc. You will likely find them curious and very cautious (more so than typical "bird feeder visitors"). I have great success finding roadkill deer in the winter, and placing out of sight, using trail camera and/or binoculars to observe. They are very intelligent, and vocal with a wide range of calls depending on what they are communicating, in my experience, feeding behavior is not noisy. Fascinating behavior.

  • You could probably get away with old meat - sausages, chicken bones / carcass etc as well, if you can't find a dead deer ;) – Aravona Oct 2 '15 at 15:03
  • 1
    @Shemseger, below answer suggests dog/cat food. A good suggestion, as I've used cat food adjacent to my non-meat compost pile to bring in ravens, after I found egg shells scattered about. – michael Oct 2 '15 at 16:53
  • 1
    I like your idea of moving roadkill so you can watch these beautiful birds eat. Not only is it fun, but it's much safer. In fact, even though they usually lift off quickly, they can, and do, get killed by cars while they're eating in the street. – Sue Oct 13 '15 at 21:37
10

The real question is what won't ravens or crows eat. Ravens hang out at the garbage dumps and perch on dumpsters, the easiest way to get them to visit your yard would be to leave garbage spread out behind your house, or leave a hunk of rotting meat nailed to a perch of some sort. They will eat pretty much anything. Crows are always in competition with seagulls, but you typically see them eating roadkill more often than gulls.

We have plenty of such birds up here, and they are not something you want to wake up to (CAW! CAW!). Most people around here try to scare them off and keep them out of their yards by mounting fake owls on their houses, and making sure their garbage is covered up. We had a real problem with crows and magpies eating our dog's food off the deck, so we stopped leaving his food outside. That would probably be your best bet for attracting big carrion birds to your yard without offending the neighbours, try dog or cat food, they'd probably appreciate either wet or dry food.

  • A caution about dog or cat food--it can also attract feral cats, skunks, raccoons, and opossums. If you find that it attracts unwanted visitors, switch to something else. Crows and ravens really do eat almost anything. – Tom Gaskill Aug 2 '17 at 18:21
7

I'd rather not prefer inviting them for food at all. Usually for what I have seen around, crows scare the hell out of small birds like Bulbul, Robin and Sunbirds. They feast on roadside kills, trashed food, whatever that feels eatable to them in a garbage dump, in short, whatever that appears pretty much unhygienic. Considering the hygiene I imagine having crows sharing the food with other birds is not a good idea.

3

As a teen I have helped to raise an orphan (European) crow, which was hand tame when it approached my parents in the local park. Clearly had been fed by humans and was not yet able to eat himself, played with the piece of bread it was offered and opened it bill when my mother had some bread soaked in water on her finger. So she took it home.

We were advised to give it bird food meant for insect eaters (which is readily available from the pet shop), mixed with water, as long as it needed to be hand fed. When growing to eat by itself the advice was to combine the bird food with live insects and other creepy and crawlies as long as he liked them.
Besides, fruit, cheese, (hard boiled) eggs, bread, peas, the wormlets living in the peas, fresh grounded meat and whatever else the crow showed interest in.

Not given, but a favorite if he could get its bill in, butter. By preference a bite out of the middle of a new stick.

As soon as the bird was able to eat them, we showed it the insects, spiders and so on that lived in and near the house, teaching him his natural food. We had him fly freely outside almost from the start, taking him in at night, first in the house and later in the shed. He lived with us for a whole year and came in for some food and company the next summer.

Side note: We were happy to help out the bird but it was a relief when it decided not to return after living out for the summer, it was a very curious animal and would peck open every box in the shed where he lived, would take out small items and hide them in other areas. And make a great mess of the area around its food bowl. And he would try to peck the paper boys and mail men, (till we taught those to try to hit it with the newspaper in their hand.)

  • Willeke, thank you so much for saving a bird. Every one counts. It takes a special temperament and a lot of work. Teaching him how to eat the right things for his own survival was very important too. Crows can "imprint" on people, meaning they form a bond, but they don't tend to thrive well that way. So, even if you're glad he didn't come back, you gave him the start he needed to go wherever it was he went! – Sue Mar 17 '18 at 22:50
  • I have to admit it was mostly my mother but we kids (all teens) helped with training the bird to be a bird. We do not know how it left its nest, can just assume it was done taken in by people to rescue it. – Willeke Mar 18 '18 at 9:47
3

The crows who come daily to our home in Colorado love to eat whole, unroasted and unsalted peanuts. They come over in the mornings and late afternoons on weekdays (seems they have other food source on weekends). They are patient with the squirrel who also comes for peanuts.

However, occasionally a blue jay will visit for peanuts and be a bit aggressive with the crows for the peanuts. But the jays don't usually stay in our neighborhood regularly - it's just once in a while a blue jay comes over and acts like a little jerk. We have crows that come here, not ravens. (Though I keep hoping someday to befriend a raven or two). The peanuts are left for them on a ledge on our front porch. It's great to watch them through the windows.

We also have two black-oil sunflower feeders in our backyard, which attracts a lot of other smaller birds - the small birds come to those feeders regardless of crows are present on the grounds or not. The robins are particularly fond of our birdbath and seemingly endless supply of garden earthworms. When I garden, sometimes a robin will stand a ways from me and when I move away from the area I just tilled, they will go to the area and look for worms.

3

I have been feeding several Ravens for over 8 years the same family every year. They love me and I love them. Here is a list of foods that my Ravens love. Meat Raw or Cooked, they love dairy any pasta with cheese or eggs in it. Tons of peanut butter sandwiches, raw hot dogs, and their personal favorite Pizza. I have witnessed them eating some black oil sunflower seeds I put out for the other birds but they don't seem to take any of the peanuts that I put out for the bluejays. They are a little fussy with seafood's but I have tucked it into a quiche that they really like as well. Perhaps they are just spoiled rotten or really like my cooking. Either way I promote them to stay in my life and backyard.

  • Are all these foods healthy for the ravens though? – Erik Apr 27 '18 at 15:18
2

I started to feed these smart cautious birds a few years ago in my back yard in the winter. In my amazement they are also guardian birds for morning doves. I had watched these crows chase and intervene a hawk in my yard trying to catch a dove. They have done this several times. So I am definitely loving and feeding these amazing birds. What is truly amazing is to watch them bring their babies to feed in the spring. I feed them all our left over table scraps, meats and they do like the sunflower seeds from the bird feeders that drop to the ground. Eva 🇨🇦

  • They might have their nest nearby, that's the most common reason for corvids "mobbing" birds of prey. – Monster Mar 17 '18 at 15:59
  • Welcome Eva Gombas! Thank you for this great contribution. I too have noticed that crows (I'm in America, so my experience is with American Crows) help protect our mourning doves. I'm glad you mentioned that. I agree about the babies too. Sadly, many crows don't live more than a year. However, while they don't re-use nests, they do come back to the general area, so you may even be seeing the same pair with their lovely children! – Sue Mar 17 '18 at 22:00

protected by user2766 Jun 26 '18 at 11:00

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?