american crow in a yard

Transform Your Garden into a Crow Hotspot: Win Their Trust and Friendship

If you are wondering how to attract crows, let’s see how a few experts do it! When making friends with a crow, you’ll want to be consistent! Birds have great circadian rhythms and even better memories!

So, let’s dive into how to attract a crow to your yard! Two things to keep in mind are that their range is all over North America, and they are ground foragers!

Understanding Crow Behavior

american crow in a yard

The American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  is a brilliant and sociable bird known for its complex behavior and social structures. When attracting these birds, it’s essential to recognize their intelligence and social nature.

Social Interactions: Crows typically form large groups known as “murder.” These flocks are not just random congregations; they have intricate social dynamics. You may not want to attract a whole flock because crows are predators. If you attract a flock that’s not usually there, they can mess up the natural ecosystem in your yard by eating many other baby bird species!

Intelligence: Often considered one of the most intelligent bird species, crows can solve problems and use tools. After you actually have a few crows that regularly visit your yard you can periodically change the location where you place the food.  Changing the food spot will engage their curiosity and problem-solving skills.

Territorial Tendencies: Crows can be pretty territorial. They remember where they found food and which areas were safe. By consistently providing food, your yard can become part of their territory.

Memory Capacity: Crows are known to hold grudges and remember faces. If you treat them well, they will likely return and possibly bring others. Conversely, negative experiences can lead to avoidance of your space.

  • Feeding Habits: Crows are omnivores and are attracted to various foods. Providing a diverse menu that includes seeds, fruits, and even small invertebrates can appeal to their varied diet.

Remember, patience is critical when you’re trying to win the favor of these complex and observant birds. Your actions and the environment you create will influence the crows’ behavior toward your space.

A Great Way for Attracting Crows According to Kaeli Swift, PhD (Crow Specialist)

@corvidresearch Crow feeding tips from a crow scientist #Crow #CrowFriends #Corvid ♬ original sound – Kaeli Swift, PhD

Put the food on an open surface

According to Dr. Kaeli Swift, crows prefer to eat on an open surface and not use a bird feeder. Place their favorite foods on a flat surface so the crow can fly to them and land, and there will be a lot of open-air space around them!

Don’t stare at the crows

Dr Swift says that crows are very attentive to the human gaze, and they may not feel comfortable if they see you watching them. Not staring at them is especially true in the beginning stages of making friends with a crow.

Feed them Nuts or Pet Kibble (like Dog Food or Cat Food)

The crows will often take whatever you feed them and bury it around their territory. A pro tip from Dr. Swift is to pre-soak the pet kibble. The plain kibble will be a bit too dry for them, and if you soak it for a few minutes to soften it, they’ll be more likely to eat it! They love pistachios and pecans as well!

Preparation of the Outdoor Space for Attracting Crows

Attracting Crows

To attract crows to your yard, focus on making your outdoor areas appealing by choosing specific plants, providing water, and ensuring safety. Remember, you don’t want to attract a group of crows, but instead, just a few!

Choosing the Right Plants

In your garden, prioritize native plants that bear fruits or seeds, as these will likely attract crows. Plants such as sunflowers, oaks (for their acorns), or evergreens can provide crows with food and nesting opportunities. Maintain a mixture of shrubs and taller trees, which can offer shelter and safe resting spots.

  • Sunflowers (Helianthus)
  • Oaks (Quercus)
  • Evergreens (Various species)

Providing Fresh Water Sources

Like many birds, crows require consistent water sources for drinking and bathing. Incorporate a birdbath or other shallow water container in your yard. Ensure that you regularly replace the water to keep it clean. Install a few water sources at different heights to cater to varied preferences.

Creating a Safe Environment and Open Space 

attract crows

Your yard must feel secure for crows to frequent it. Keep the lawn trimmed, but avoid making it too sparse, as crows may become wary of open spaces without protective cover.

Strategically place open platform feeders and baths near trees or fences for quick escape from predators. Avoid using pesticides or other chemicals that could harm the corvids or their food sources.

  • Keep lawn groomed, not too short
  • Bird feeders near trees, make your feeder a flat open surface
  • Use of natural pest control methods

Selecting the Appropriate Foods

Offering the right variety of foods and establishing a consistent feeding routine are essential steps to successfully attract crows to your yard.

Types of Food to Offer

Crows are omnivores, which makes their diet quite varied. Seeds, such as sunflower seeds, nuts and cracked corn, are attractive options. These can be provided on bird tables or scattering them on the ground.

Regarding nutspeanuts or pistachios (unsalted) are particularly favored. It’s crucial to serve these in their shells to encourage the crows’ natural foraging behaviors.

Adding fruits like pears, apples or berries to your offerings can boost the birds’ natural sugar. Meat scraps are also welcomed; to give a high protein treat to a crow using soaked pet kibble is your best bet — essential during the colder months.

Avoid offering processed meats as they contain harmful salts and spices. Insects like mealworms or beetle larvae can also be provided primarily in spring, simulating what crows would naturally hunt.

Feeding Routine and Schedule and Best Times

Developing a feeding routine ensures crows recognize your yard as a reliable food source. Consistency is critical; try to feed at the same time each day. Early morning or just before dusk are ideal times, as this is when crows are most actively searching for food. Do not leave food out overnight, as it can attract unwanted pests.

Feeding Schedule: (best times)

  • Early Morning: 6:00 AM – 9:00 AM
  • Late Evening: 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM

A predictable schedule helps attract them regularly and mitigates the risk of crows becoming too dependent or intrusive.

Alternative Food Sources for Crows Through a Compost Bin

If you’d prefer to offer a more ‘hands-off’ approach, consider creating a compost pile in your yard where crows can rummage for various insects and worms. Although this may attract other unwanted insects and rodents, it can can attract them without the need for daily active feeding.

Keep in mind that according to the Corvid Research Center scavenging accounts for very little of a crows diet.

Additionally, if you’re already feeding birds with standard bird feeders, adding a crow-friendly flat surface feeder with suitable food spread across the top can integrate naturally with your current bird-feeding practices. Remember, the goal is not just to feed crows but to create an environment where they feel safe and have access to the food they need to thrive.

Using Accessories to Attract Crows

To successfully attract crows to your yard, you must utilize accessories that appeal to their natural behaviors and preferences.

Use of Decoys and Fake Crows

Setting up crow decoys can create a welcoming environment for real crows, as these birds are highly social and are often drawn to existing flocks. Position a few fake crow decoys in visible locations around your yard. This mimics a safe and social space. Ensure your decoys are life-sized and realistic to fool the birds effectively.

  1. Placement: Scatter your crow decoys at varying heights—some on the ground and others in trees.
  2. Grouping: Crows are communal, so place your decoys in groups rather than isolating them.

Encouraging Crow Communal Activities

murder of crows

Crows are highly social creatures, and they often engage in communal activities. To attract them to your yard, creating an environment that caters to these behaviors is crucial. However, as we mentioned in Dr. Swift’s video above, you don’t want to attract a murder of crows. 

Providing Roosting Spots

Crows prefer to roost where they feel safe and secure from predators. Your yard can become an attractive roosting spot by ensuring ample tree branches for them to settle on. 

Plant trees, such as pines or oaks that provide dense foliage and horizontal branches ideal for perching and overnight roosting. Additionally, consider placing a sturdy platform or a horizontal bar high up in an existing tree to mimic natural roosting places.

  • Trees suggested for roosting:
    • Pine
    • Oak
    • Maple

Adding wind chimes near roosting places can deter predators and provide a gentle sound that may attract crows during the day without disrupting their nighttime roosting.

Simulating Crow Sounds

Crows communicate with various calls, ranging from rally calls to signal others to distress calls when danger is present. You can foster interactions by playing recorded crow sounds using an electronic caller. Simulate crow conversations with a rotation of different calls:

  1. Rally Call: Play intermittently to mimic the sound of crows gathering.
  2. Attention Call: Use sporadically to arouse curiosity among nearby crows.

Remember, it’s essential to use these sounds responsibly to prevent causing undue stress to the birds:

  • Play crow calls at a moderate volume
  • Avoid continuous playback to keep the environment natural

Introducing bird calls into your yard can simulate the social hubbub that naturally attracts crows, turning your space into a communal hotspot for these intelligent birds.