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How to Befriend Crows? (Step-By-Step Guide)

crow

Whether through myth, ancient folklore, or legend, crows have a long and sometimes sinister association with humans. Inquisitive, clever, and charmingly curious, crows are one of the rare bird species not only to recognize humans but form relationships with them (1). 

Crow’s lives are intertwined with ours in many ways, and their unfortunate association with the macabre belies their friendly and curious nature. The curiosity is mutual; however, it’s only natural then that our efforts would eventually befriend our feathered friends. 

How to befriend crows is a question commonly asked by those with a burgeoning curiosity for the corvid creatures. Learn what it takes to not only attract these clever birds into your life but how to make friends with crows.  

Related: 12 Tips on How to Attract Crows to Your Yard

How to befriend crows?

One of the best ways to animals’ hearts (or survival instincts) is to feed them. With many species, it can become an ethical question of whether you are helping them or not, but it doesn’t make sense to paint every species with the same brush. 

Each population faces unique challenges, and so there is no one right answer (2). Ask yourself if the birds are at risk, if the food is appropriate, and whether feeding them will change or harm their behavior before proceeding.

Is feeding crows illegal? 

That depends. In many jurisdictions, it is expressly forbidden to intentionally feed or leave food out for wild animals, creating a nuisance. Check with your local ordinance before making any decisions. But once you are sure, try a variety of offerings to find one they like. 

Dried pet food is among their favorite, but crows have also been known to like peanuts, eggs, food scraps, and other nuts. Just make sure it’s healthy (3). Over time, your offerings will build trust with the crows and could be the beginning of your crow human friendship. How to befriend a crow can be as easy as following a few simple steps to entice these inquisitive and interesting birds. 

Step 1. Find out what they like and dislike

What do crows like to eat, you might ask. This might require some trial and error on your part. Whatever you feed your crows, make sure it is healthy. Like us, crows like junk food, but also like us, there are good and bad foods to feed crows (4). These curious corvids can be surprisingly fickle, and their behavior will indicate their preference for your offerings. 

Step 2. Create a quiet environment

Crows can be cautious and aloof and will not readily come to humans. To befriend crows, you must create an environment where they will not only feel safe but comfortable visiting. Crows will seek out a quieter environment where food is readily available. 

Since they are known to prefer open spaces, make your backyard more suitable for crows by keeping it free of debris and any noisemakers (i.e., cars, vehicles, etc.) far enough away not to startle them. Remove any threats to create a safe environment. 

Step 3. Offer their favorite treats

Opportunistic omnivores, crows will sample from a variety of food sources before settling on one they like. As omnivores, they will eat almost anything, but make sure you are offering them healthy options. 

Crows’ favorite foods are small pellet dog or cat food, eggs, unsalted peanuts, other nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables, and even chicken and other meats. Be careful, though, because crows can be fussy, and once they are spoiled on a particular food, they will demand it regularly.

Step 4. Establish a feeding routine

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of getting a crow to trust you is to be reliable. One way to do this is to feed on a regular schedule. Establishing a feeding schedule makes your behavior predictable, and the crows know when to expect you (5). Establishing this rhythm helps the relationship gel and builds trust. 

Step 5. Add a bird bath

All birds need water, and crows are no different. Make your yard more enticing by providing them a place to not only cool off, but bathe, get a drink, and even wash food (6). When choosing a birdbath, consider the crow’s substantial size when choosing. Given their stature, a deeper basin will be needed as well as a sturdy ledge for their talons to grip. 

Step 6. Be patient and test different foods if needed

In your quest for corvid friendship, you’ll need to pack your patience for these inquisitive creatures. Crows are analytical by nature and it may take some time for them to assess and approach. Once they feel comfortable, crows will investigate almost any food you set out for them. 

If you’ve left something out all day and there are no takers, it’s likely they aren’t fond of that particular food and you’ll need to try with something else. Crows will eagerly descend on their favorite treats, so test out different options to see what to feed crows in your area. 

Step 7. Keep your distance

Smart, curious, and inquisitive, crows are still wild animals, and it’s important to remember that when trying to befriend them. Your goal is to admire these interesting birds from afar rather than tame them or have them develop an unnatural dependence on you. Observe them from a healthy distance to keep the boundaries safe for us and them alike. 

What do crows eat?

Once how to feed crows has been established, it is important to figure out what your crows will eat. Like us, crows will readily devour junk food, but it’s not fair to them, and perhaps ethically dubious, to indulge in this practice. Crows are omnivorous scavengers and will feed on a wide variety of foods. They are remarkably adaptable, and their diets have been known to consist of everything from nuts, seeds, fruits, and berries, to caterpillars, grubs, roadkill, and snakes. 

Also, like us, crows have favorites and will show a penchant for their preferred foods. Start with foods they are known to love and go from there. Eggs, unsalted peanuts, cat or dog food, corn, and chicken are all tried and true favorites of many crow enthusiasts. If you don’t have a dedicated feeding station or area set up, you can begin by scattering cracked corn and small pellet dog or cat food on the ground. 

Although crows will eat grubs and insects, they may be harder to come by. Mealworm is also an excellent alternative and is easily found along with other bird seeds in stores. Kitchen scraps, eggs, and bread are also all foods crows have been known to enjoy. Crows will investigate just about anything you have on offer for them, though, so it may take some time of trial and error to see what particular foods your crows fancy. 

Related: What is a Group of Crows Called & Why? [Murder Background]

How to get crows to trust me?

For centuries, crows have played the bad guys in human folklore and legends, so it’s no wonder they regard humans with a guarded curiosity and a general distrust. How to get crows to like you has been a question many have been trying to answer for a long time. 

Crows and humans have had an arguably symbiotic relationship with us for a while, and crow researchers have found many instances of cultural coevolution between us. Even though our histories are closely intertwined, crows are still wild animals and can be skittish and aloof even in the best of circumstances. Given their long cultural associations with death and the macabre, it’s little wonder these impressively smart birds have a natural distrust of humans. Researchers have even found their formidable intelligence. 

They can remember names, pets, people and hold grudges (7). To gain their trust, you’ll need attention, predictability, and more than a little patience. Establish a predictable feeding routine and observe their behavior from a safe distance. And be sure to keep pets inside, so they don’t scare off the crows. Once the crows know when and what to expect from you (and vice versa), you are a long way to laying the groundwork for a dependable relationship with your crows. 

RelatedCrow Symbolism & Meaning (+Totem, Spirit & Omens)

Can I keep a crow as a pet?

Although astoundingly smart and high on the list of bird brainiacs, do crows make good pets? The short answer is no, but perhaps a more important question is, can you have a crow as a pet? In the US, crows are listed on the Department of the Interior’s Federal Register of Migratory Birds and therefore are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (8). 

This makes them illegal to possess, or any part of them, but for many reasons, crows do not make good pets. And justifiably right – they require specialized custom care as well as constant entertainment and interaction. Researchers and rehabilitators often compare them to small children who require constant attention. 

The question of can crows be pets is easily answered by both practical and moral reasons that prohibit their ownership. Even in extenuating circumstances like injury or harm, you should never take in a crow, and it is always illegal to keep a native crow (in the US at least). Besides the neverending work it would take to care for, maintain, and nurture a crow, crows belong in their natural habitat, and however happy you may be, your crow would not be living its best life. 

Related

58 thoughts on “How to Befriend Crows? (Step-By-Step Guide)”

  1. I’ve had a fledgling crow stuck in my courtyard for 4 days now, it’s safe and secluded. I’ve named it Jubi, after the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday. I’ve never liked crow’s.. I’ve seen what they can do! They’re evil! But this little fellow (assuming it’s male?) has stolen my heart! I only go out to check that it’s safe, leave fresh water and left over catfood. I’ve even put bananas out as they attract fly’s -for feeding. Thankfully my cat’s are indoor cats. I swear if the house’s weren’t so close together the murder would’ve dive bombed me?! The murder is growing every day.. at least 25-30 of them now Haha! Today Jubi was chasing the sun spots in the courtyard and gave a couple of hops and skips, for the first time attempting to use it’s wings. Was like a child playing ..completely delightful to see! As much as I want Jubi gone so I can put my washing out haha I am worried for when he finally leaves. I kept being told that the murder are waiting to kill it but I believe the parents are just very protective as they’re unable to get close? Who’d have thought that I would be a surrogate crow mama?

    1. this is so cute aww Tracey!

      hopefully once it is bigger the rest of the flock will just welcome them back & you will most likely have a friend come visit you if you keep leaving treats 🙂

  2. I have started to befriend a crow for about 3 weeks…leaving him dog kibble. I have named him Calvin and when I come out on a smoke break, he’ll either sit and look at me from the power pole or in the tree that’s next to me. I’ve never heard him caw, so I think he may be mute, if that’s possible. He hasn’t told any of his friends as he is the only one that comes out so I think he’s keeping me secret :). If I start walking into work and don’t see him, he’ll fly and land on the roof (which is metal) so I hear him and I’ll “hi Calvin…where have you been” and then walk back over to wear I was and leave him his treats. He just makes my day and I love watching him. They are absolutely fascinating.

    1. yes! i agree so much and your story is so adorable, the little tapping sounds 🙂 the beach crows know my car and both the seagulls and them will sit on people’s roofs and also hoods while staring into the car at the people inside (usually eating)

  3. Not just family and friends but any crows in the area who pass it on to their families and friends, crows are very good at passing messages about dangerous people, places, and creatures. Once one has spoken, every crow in the area will know very quickly.

  4. A vet and his family adopted a baby crow. As the crow grew larger, it would ride on the dog’s back while the family walked the child to school. This same crow located the child in her classroom and proceeded to come in through the window and hop onto the desks of the students and flick off their pencil or eraser. Very entertaining!

  5. I live at the edge of a canyon and bring out unsalted peanuts every morning for the crows. It’s a large number of around 20. They wait for me in the canyon trees and I call out “Hey, Mr. Crow!” (also: “Hey, Mr. Blue Jay!”) and the Blue Jay (sometimes one sometimes two or three) is there as soon as I walk away. The crows are more cautious. One inspects and then calls the others over. They generally wait till I’m back in the house. They send spies throughout the day to check on me and see what I’m up to. Sometimes they circle around above me and come to say hello. They make me happy.

  6. A Google search led me to your website. I found a 6-year old box of Kraft macaroni in the back of a kitchen cabinet and. instead of tossing it in the garbage, I decided to soak the mac in water, drain it, and put it out for my crow buddies. But before doing this, I wondered if feeding mac to crows was a good idea. That’s when I Googled the question and found out it wasn’t a problem. And that’s when I saw your “How to Befriend Crows” tag.
    There is one crow I call The Chief, because when I toss out some goodies, he/she will sit on top of my power pole until I back off, then fly down and check out the offering. If it seems suitable, he will fly back up on the power pole and begin cawing his brains out. That’s when the rest of his tribe come flying in and gormandize the stuff I put out. In the case of the macaroni, they ate every last soggy mac.
    I sometimes use crows as a garbage disposal. For example, after eating a rotisserie chicken, I will put out what’s left – skin, bones, bits of meat, gristle, and all – for the crows that live in the woods around my place. They will take the bigger pieces, fly up in a tree, and begin eating what meat is still attached. Then they drop the bones which will then be found and eaten by oppossums. Nearly complete recycling. If only crows could safely digest plastic.

  7. During the stay at home order, I learned a lot by hanging out with these 3 crows daily . To this day now , they’ve helped take care of the bug problem on my front porch and I’ve trained 2 of them to play catch with me . I can tell one of them was starting to try and say “hello” by them mimicking the way I always tell them hello. Here is a video

    https://imgur.com/gallery/eM6Ks5H

    1. Wow!! That is amazing that the crow plays catch with you!! I love crows and put food in my backyard for them, but they sit high on my palm trees until I go back inside. Hopefully, they will eventually come closer. Thank you for sharing!

      1. Hi my name is pam
        I have had a crow from a baby been dismissed by his parents ibefiended him by calling him George.
        He would come and bath in the bird bath but I did not feed him.
        I had a sad looking crow come to the fence a little back thos year he she was looking sad and her feathers had holes in them I carve and paint I keep feathers ao I kept it and the saw a make of little he’s in the wing feather.
        He she kept comming sitting on the fence I have in and just gave and now I know she is a she she has nested juts over form my place and has babies so I have her some hamburger
        Wow she came floating down from the big antenah next door and swooped and sat on the fence.
        Wow how beautiful she flew back to her babies I could sew in the tree.
        So pleased and nowafter reading your story I will feed her some healthy food for her and her babies
        I calledout to her so now she is Georgette.
        I do love these birds I have many come to the doobird bath every day but I don’t feed just water them
        But sorry the crow has gone my heart.
        She is so beautiful and the most beautiful blue eyes so lucky to have such a beautiful bird that thought I could help her soon some babies comming down also…🙏
        Many Thanks for your story
        Pamela….

    2. PAMELA ANTHONY

      Wow! That’s insane! I would love to see that. I love crows. They are so cool and funny to watch.

  8. The problem this year is that people feed the birds because of the pandemic. Then they go out and devour all the farmer’s crops or like me they devested 30 to 40 percent of my persimmon crop. Last year I had 1 or 2 crows. This year there were 15 to 20 crows in my tree one day. The only way to save any of the crop was to cover my tree with netting. Now I see many of the crows looking for food because they are starving because there are so many birds. So next year there will be a lot more halk’s and coyate’s from their extra food supply from dead crows. When the halk’s and coyate’s food supply runs short they will be eating your pet dog or cat.

    1. Where you see only a problem, objectively speaking it is only the ebbs and flows of nature running it’s course, same as it has been since time first began. Just like the tides, the seasons, the weather, and other examples of nature’s majesty they come and they go only to return at some other point in time and it is irrelevant as to whether it is a problem for you personally. A causal chain of events is as pointless as a thing can be in this case.

      That is the thing about subjective viewpoints and seeing the entire world solely from a singular personal vantage point. You miss the big picture worrying too much about your own self from your extremely limited and biased point of view and fail to appreciate your place in and amongst the cosmos as a whole. Fortunately, the crows don’t harbor subjectively based resentments for all of mankind tearing up all most of the natural world to serve our own selfish ambitions and desires. They would certainly be far more justified in doing so, but being the noble creatures they are they hold no grudge, cast no blame about, and allow us to carry on being the oblivious and destructive beings we naturally are.

    2. Nature balances out populations on it’s own. The problems we have had in the past have been human intervention. Huge jackrabbit outbreaks after killing off almost all coyotes. As a past farmer, crop affects are grossly exaggerated . It is part of the cost of doing business.

  9. Crows are my friends. I like crows and like three people. Thank you so much for the original post on what they like to eat. I think I’ll bake them some fresh biscuits.
    Crows are super intelligent, humorous and take care of each other.
    I’ve been honoring birds for 65 years. There is nothing that has matched the joy that numerous species have given me. One of the greatest gifts of my life.

    1. Lenora Kasprzyk

      Lenora, my name is Lenora also. Your post is a mirror of my relationship with all birds. This is delightful to hear someone who finds happiness in our natural world too. My friends the crows are a fan of my fresh made corn bread. I feel like grandma when I bake for them.

  10. Why is this site encouraging the feeding of wild animals. My upstairs neighbor has “befriended” a murder of crows, probably following your ridiculous instructions, and its becoming a nightmare. I LIKE CROWS, I THINK THEY ARE INTERSTING BIRDS. THAT SAID I’m sick of having 5-6 crows swooping close to my head each time I walk out of the door. If I have something in my hand its worse, if I have food in my hand I am nearly attacked until I get rid of it. You people think you doing a kindness and I get it, go adopt a child or something, the crows don’t need it, and the guy from Canada is right, you can shoot them, and I’m going to recommend these birds be put down if my neighbor wont stop feeding them (haven’t asked yet, but he is a nice guy) this is not good for you or the birds. Stick to feeding sparrows you crazies’.

    1. Don’t kill the crows, you could try deterring them with Ultrasonic Bird and Pest Repellers or hang shiny things throughout the garden, there are plenty of options before shooting them

    2. The reason they dive you is because they are viewing you as a threat to a food source. If you leave them food as well then they will stop. There was a very touching story on Reddit where a woman had her whole neighborhood befriend a murder of crows. When one of her elderly neighbors slipped on ice during the winter the crows created so much noise that people came to investigate, potentially saving him from freezing to death in the snow.

    3. Dear Concerned
      I’m off to make cat food sandwiches for my little “ murder”. Nothing like reading such malice to spur me on!

    4. @CONCERNED:
      I don’t believe in Religions, Superstitions, or any of that hocus-pocus.

      But I’m feeling like…

      You should probably think twice before murdering any Crows and/or Ravens.
      A deed like that will haunt you for the rest of your life.

      Just saying…

    5. You must have done something to provoke the crows. They attack humans that they perceive as a threat. They don’t forget either. They’ll let their friends and family all know that you’re a meanie.
      Crazy? Pfft, I’m eccentric and awesomely fun!

  11. Aoife Ni Chaoilte

    Hi Mike, lovely article, I’m in Dublin Ireland and feed the crows Monday and Friday, astrologically it’s the best days to feed as crows represents our ancestors. I just read that if you are feeding at-dog pellets you must soak them as crows can choke on dry food. I wonder if it is true and if so can you include that in this section because people should know that.

    Maybe it’s a myth but it kind of makes sense.

  12. Thank you so much for this article! I’m new to the bird feeding world, but I have some crows that have become visitors. I’ve gotten 3 shiny gifts from them so far! I was looking for some ideas of foods they would like for me to leave for them, so this is very helpful. Thank you!

  13. I live in Champlin, MN and have noticed a huge surge in the Crow population in my neighborhood. We are in a drought this summer, which is why I assume they’re hanging around. What are the advantages of helping them out? Befriending them? If I start feeding them, setting out bird baths, etc, what would I accomplish? Piss off the neighbors by bringing in hoards of Crows? I like Crows, but don’t like playing with fire. Please advise your recommendations.

    1. Hi Mike! I am in Minnetonka. I started feeding crows dog food pellets last year when the schools across the street from me shut down. I also provide a dish basin of fresh water (not in the winter.)
      A small group of 2-8 birds visit me once or twice a day. Sometimes they eat- and sometimes they only stop by to say hello.
      They are less of a nuisance than the geese at the school. During the pandemic they have made my days brighter.

    1. Actually, Heather, I strongly advise YOU seek professional help if you think it is humanly acceptable to post such offensive words on the website of someone guinely helping others find friendly ways to connect with wildlife in ways it won’t hurt the ecosystem. I understand concerns about birds targeting you as a food source, but as you’re complaint had nothing to do with that, your post is not okay. Have a good day, and you suck😉

  14. Had a crow feed in my dry composting area. Decided to leave a bowl of the better stuff in it. Fed it for 5 months, but it never gave me anything back. Stopped doing the bowl thing. However, 2 months on it started leaving corn cobs as payment. Now, we are back to the bowls.

    Excellent! Appreciate the advice.

  15. I live in Canada and the little [email protected]^% ate my McDonald’s breakfast (well at least half of it) since in Canada its illegal to own or carry guns I couldn’t shoot the little f#ck€r but I did manage to trap him by visually showing the crow I threw the remains of my breakfast in the garbage tied a string to the lid of the garbage can then guided string to my workshop and waited. Within 2 min the bird flew to the edge of the garbage can, jumped across the can, jumped on the ground walked around the can jumped up on can edge, back to ground, jumped yo edge teetered then went for the bait. Young pulled the string and bam! My next meal……..

    When I held the bird in my hands we tied the string used to trap the food theif to its ankle and let it go……..

    It didn’t fly far, it broke its own leg being stupid, so now im stuck helping this piece of $+/¥ until its leg is better. I never wanted to kill the bird just teach it a lesson. I guess I’m getting the lesson. I’m right now trying to dyi a split for the damn bird aarrgghh……..

      1. Me too Sarah. I am a licensed rehabber and if I could find out who that asshole is, I would turn the mother F’er in and have him arrested!

    1. Wow, imagine discovering the food item that an animal likes and instead of using that knowledge to build trust and befriend comrade crow, you act like Tom in a Tom and Jerry skit. Seems it’s not just the United States Americans that are stupid but our neighbors to the north as well. I hope that if nothing else, this experience teaches you to be more compassionate to other living beings

    2. Patrick Dalton

      Um, maybe you should be less of a psycho tyring to “teach it a lesson” by getting revenge on it for taking a bit of McDonald’s on you, a lesson that it’s never going to realistically understand or learn more than you just shooing it away in future. You might need actual professional help, not even joking.

    3. Pretty silly on your part, wasn’t it? If that story was meant to be amusing, #fail. Makes you look like a petulant child and an animal abuser. Congrats.

    4. How pathetic. Hopefully that crow remembers you, holds a grudge against you, and harasses you till you leave the area, as far away as it wants you…

      1. All of you people who are saying this is animal abuse, um yeah it might be, just as much abuse as idk when you eat a cow or a pig which probably have equivalent intellect to crows (at least pigs are proven to be just as intelligent as dogs). This is the same thing as when people get upset over people eating dogs. I’m not going to do full rant, but all of you guys have seen the videos where the animals are kept in little pens where they live their whole lives right…?

        1. Good grief Karen surely you’re not both-sidesing literal animal abuse? Factory farming is bad. So is this weird psychopath thinking he could teach an effing *bird* a lesson. LOL.

        2. At least the nutrients are reused our body like mother nature intended rather than slaughtered out of spite. Although if ur vegan, stay vegan because ur helping the planet

          1. @Melinda, I fully support anyone’s preference for a vegan lifestyle. Something to consider regarding health and what food sources are ‘best. Crows, like humans, owe most of their intelligence to a highly efficient digestive system that is able to process animal fat and protein, which are dense in materials needed for brain development. We’re it not for omnivorous diets, crows and humans would unlikely have evolved to such high intelligence levels.

        3. Pointing out one form of animal abuse (such as the actions towards this crow) is not denying animal abuse exists in other forms. I personally do not agree with the actions of this person OR factory farming. Please try to encourage people who clearly care about animals rather than shame them for not fixing every animal rights problem at once. Encouragement makes much more of a difference!!

    5. Damn you are a very disgusting Person. Imagine someone doing that to you just because u got some of their food cuz guess what they cant get their appropriate food since we human destroyed their habitat. Maby think about that the next time. Your Teaching a lesson will most probably result in injury’s the animal has to fight with their whole life .No matter if you wanted to reach that or not -_-

    6. Karma will catch up with you. Might be in the form of diabetes related amputation, partial paralysis due to a stroke, or pancreatic enzyme insufficiency but whatever…. That McDonald’s habit and the fact you are an animal abuser, your judgment day will come.

    7. Haha you just played yourself because crows not only hold a grudge, they will also tell their crow family and friends about you so they can hold the grudge against you too!

    8. This guy is just a troll, not a true story. Probably just some redneck American who thinks Canadians can’t own guns, which is ludicrously false. Still a nasty person though.
      Troll score is 4/10 purely for the successful generation of outraged responses. Next time, be a Carin.

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