Are Crows Carnivores or Omnivores? (Answered!)

Crows are opportunistic feeders that will take advantage of whatever food is available. This makes them very adaptable to different habitats and means that they can live in close proximity to humans.

Crows are common birds of the family Corvidae and are related to magpies, rooks, and jays. There are many different species of crow around the world, and they all have two primary characteristics – a dark black color and their well-known call sounding: “craaa, craaa”!

Crows are omnivorous birds that are found all over the world. In the wild, they eat a variety of food items including insects, small mammals, reptiles, frogs, eggs, and carrion. But they will also eat fruit, nuts, and seeds when animal nutrition is unavailable.

Are Crows Omnivores

As an omnivore, the crow has a diet that consists of both plants and animals. However, the vast majority of their diet (up to 90%) is made up of invertebrates such as insects and earthworms. The rest of their diet includes fruits, seeds, nuts, and garbage for crows that live in cities.

Where do crows live?

Woodlands, fields, and forests are the most common natural habitats for crows, but as you properly know, they are also widespread in cities and backyards!

However, their natural habitat is open country with scattered trees, scrub/bush areas, and other kinds of woodland.

The natural habitat of crows is open woodlands, fields, and near lakes.

They often nest inside hollow trees but will also find holes in fences and abandoned buildings to nest in if there is no suitable tree available.

What do crows eat?

Crows are opportunistic feeders that will eat anything they can get. In the wild they mainly eat insects, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, nuts and berries.

Their diet changes between seasons as different food types become more abundant or as they grow bigger and can handle larger food items like small mammals.

However, in the mating season and during the summer, the diet of crows would suggest that they are mostly carnivores. However, in fall, they forage heavily on fruits, nuts and seeds as well.

During spring and summer time they prefer to eat worms, insects, larvae (including those of ants), grasshoppers and beetles, caterpillars (particularly army worms), snails and slugs (the latter particularly when they are young) as well as eggs of other birds such as sparrows, jays, cardinals and pheasants.

But they will also eat water animals such as frogs, fish, and tadpoles!

Crows will also sometimes forage near lakes and even fish for food!

They may take small songbirds or their eggs that they find on the ground but these are usually only taken when they have nothing better to do,  e.g. if it has been raining heavily all day and there is little prey elsewhere because everything is hiding from the rain rather than actively hunting for food themselves.

This was seen quite recently during Hurricane Katrina when many animals were killed by the storm itself including many birds whose bodies were then picked over by predators looking for food so that some predator species increased greatly, but temporarily while others such as foxes remained largely unchanged.

This kind of event changes the competition against other species for food, but luckily for the crow, most other bird species are afraid of crows!

So crows are omnivores and not carnivores?

Crows are omnivores because they eat both plants and animals, but they do prefer to eat animals as these are higher in the proteins and nutrients they need.

When you are an omnivore, you are also a carnivore and a herbivore at times, but crows are closer to being a carnivore than a herbivore.

What Type of Consumer is a Crow?

Crows forage mostly as secondary consumers, although they may behave as both primary and tertiary consumers as well.

Crows are mainly secondary consumers.

Omnivores are secondary consumers, herbivores are primary consumers and carnivores are tertiary consumers. Few species are quaternary consumers or apex predators.

Can Crows be Considered Decomposers?

Crows are primarily omnivores, but they do scavenge for dead animals and small reptiles. Therefore, some scientists also consider them scavengers.

However, crows do not eat dead or decaying matter as their primary diet and are therefore not considered decomposers or detritivores.

 The bacteria and fungi in the gut of the crow play a very important role for their digestion and these microorganisms may be considered true decomposers.

Where are Crows in the Food Chain?

As omnivores, crows are secondary consumers because they eat both plants and animals. The animals that eat the animals they eat are tertiary consumers.

The crow is, like other mainly carnivorous birds, closer to the 3rd trophic level than the second trophic level. But as omnivores, they span both!

The crow is an important animal in the ecosystem because it is an omnivore. As a predator, the crow helps to keep the population of other animals in check, which helps to maintain balance in the ecosystem.

In addition, the crow is a scavenger and helps to clean up the environment by eating dead and decaying animals so they don’t pile up in your yard!

Are Crows Autotrophs or Heterotrophs?

Crows are heterotrophs because they eat other living organisms. Practically no animals are autotrophic because animals do not get their energy directly from the sun like plants do. That is, animals like the crow cannot make their own energy!

What Animals Prey on Crows?

Crow may be eaten by larger carnivores like foxes, cougars, wolves, snakes and birds of prey.

Few common backyard birds will eat a grown-up crow, but some will attack it and chase it away!

The American crow is only scared of a few other backyard birds like the pleated woodpecker, the wild turkey and the Great Grackle! (Click the image to read more about crows in the backyard bird hierarchy!).

Crows are actually quite high up in the “pecking order” when it comes to backyard birds, and you can read much more about what birds the crow is able to scare away in my recent article about the crow’s role in the bird feeder hierchy!

Conclusion

In this blog post, I have looked into the diet and feeding habits of crows, a bird that many of us are very familiar with.

Crows are common birds of the family Corvidae, meaning they have a beak-like bill. There are many different species of crow around the world like the American crow or the raven (yes it is a type of crow!).

Much of what you have read here will also apply to ravens as they are very similar (but not identical!) to crows.

Crows are omnivores: they eat fruit, insects such as caterpillars and crickets, buds on trees, worms, and snails.

Crows are very curious birds and will eat just about anything. They are notorious for stealing food when the opportunity arises, including all sorts of other bird’s food!

Crows were once considered as pests because they would take eggs from nests, but now many people find crows quite endearing as opportunistic feeders, and not particularly aggressive.

I would certainly recommend trying to feed crows if you ever get the chance! They are quite amusing to watch and you will learn a lot about their feeding habits. They are super smart and fascinating creatures. Some say they have the IQ of a seven-year-old!

Watch how intelligent crows actually are!

If you enjoyed this post, why not take a look at some of my other interesting blog posts!