Do Crows Eat Crows?

Despite being well-known scavengers, crows rarely eat other crows. But when they do, it is likely to be an outsider crow than a family member. Still, such an event will only occur in an extremely harsh environment, with the dead crow as the only food resource. 

That said, crows eat almost everything.

So, I wouldn’t be surprised if you were wondering,

Are Crows Cannibals?

Not usually. 

You see, crows are omnivores that can eat a wide variety of things.


Crows don’t really need to eat each other.

Besides, corvids are quite the social birds.

They have a unique family system, unlike any other avian species.

While most birds leave their nests after learning to fly.

A crow usually stays with its parents for up to six years and helps them raise its siblings. 

The crow families forage together in loose groups of 4-8 birds. 

But they are part of a bigger family or ‘crow tribe’ that often roosts together.

These crows share vital information regarding food resources, dangers, and newly learned behaviors.

If need be, they even mob predators out of their territory. 

Crows help each other survive and provide mutual protection.

Interestingly, corvids are the only birds that hold a funeral for their dead.

They recognize crow deaths as a concerning situation.

And so, crows even scold humans handling crow corpses.

But most crows don’t touch their dead, rather just gather around it.

So, it’s safe to assume that,

Crows are not some Hannibal Lecter that will enjoy eating other crows.

Otherwise, there would have been a movie on “Silence of the Corvids”. 

But survival in the wild is a continuous war.

Food resources are especially scarce in winters or migratory seasons.

So, if it comes to an option between dying of starvation or eating a fellow, then

A crow may eat other crows as the last resort to stay alive. 

Still, such events are quite rare.

But you may have witnessed, crows attacking a singular crow. 

Which leads me to my next point

Why Do Crows Attack One Crow?

Odds are that it is a territorial feud between a crow family and an outsider.

In ancient times, it was theorized that crows were a sort of civil society, with an appropriate judicial system.

So, crow disputes were settled by older and wiser crows.

And so, criminal crows were punished by the court.

Also, eating crow eggs or fledglings was considered the most heinous crime. 

However, that was just some fantasy without scientific evidence.

So, if several crows are attacking one crow, there may be the following reasons:

1. Outsider

Crows are quite territorial.

They tend to mob out outsiders to avoid conflict for food resources, territories, or even mates.

The scientific evidence comes from experiments set by ornithologist Kaeli Swift.

She found that crows caw at the dead crows.

But they try to dive-bomb and scare away the corpses that seemed alive.

2. Sick Or Injured

Since a dying crow will attract scavengers and predators.

Therefore, crows often attack a family member if he is injured, sick, or behaving abnormally. 

This also prevents the spread of any lethal infections among the crow tribes.

3. Teaching To Fight

Crows teach and transfer their learned skills.

For instance, fledglings follow their parents and often dip their beaks inside wood crevices to scoop out insects. 

Perhaps, crows are teaching their young to mob out predators.

4. Bullying

Crows are the bullies of the avian world. 

It could be crows also bully each other. 

Maybe those crows were ganging up on a weak crow.

But this reason seems unlikely. 

Can a Crow Kill Another Crow?

It certainly can.

It is most common with intruder crows.

But a family member can also kill another crow.  

However, this is more like an accident. 

  1. The murderer misjudged its attacking power.
  2. The victim was too fragile to handle any assault.

Crow expert Kevin McGowan suggests it to be an intentional killing.

He describes those crows only murder sick fellows to avoid attracting predators. 

Do Crows Register Murder?

Allegedly, they do. 

John Marzluff explains that crows recognize a dead crow.

This is observed when crows scolded people handling taxidermized crows but did not react as much to scientists holding dead pigeons or squirrels.

But this also suggests that,

Survival of the flock is more important to crows than killing an infected crow.

So, when crows hold funerals, they are likely discussing the plausible cause of death than mourn for the loss of a soul.

But if crows can kill other crows, does that mean they eat their own dead?

Let’s find out..

Do Crows Eat Their Own Dead?

Once in a blue moon.

And mostly when it’s the only way to survive. 

But crows are protective of their kind.

They even fiercely shield a fallen fledgling while other songbirds abandon such babies.

Crows can mob out hawks, eagles, and even owls to protect each other.


Crows avoid eating their dead.

About 76% of all crows don’t even touch the body of a fallen fellow, much less eat it.

They just gather and caw.

But 24% of crows may touch, peck, or drag the dead body.

A minority of these crows (4%) have shown tendencies of necrophilia

A crow is more likely to look for a mate in a dead body than eat it. 

While some scientists suggest that a crow tries to give CPR to a dead bird.

Necrophiliac trends are more common than such rare events.

Perhaps the crow loses sense of judgment with hormonal fluctuations.

Normally, a live mate joins the necrophiliac crow and shreds the dead body.

Dead crows aside, corvids don’t even eat eggs and fledglings of their family members.

While a cat may eat its own offspring out of stress, a crow may still never lay a hand on its own baby. 

So if a crow won’t eat another crow, would they eat other birds?

Do Crows Eat Other Birds?

They do, whenever they can.

Crows are opportunistic hunters.

And so, they steal all unattended eggs, fledglings, or even adult birds if they fit the right size.

Sometimes they eat even the bigger birds, especially if they can find a fresh kill.

Crows commonly eat the following birds:

  1. Jays
  2. Warblers 
  3. Juncos
  4. Chickadees
  5. Starlings
  6. Sparrows
  7. Swallows

Crows also steal the eggs from chickens and ducks.

But they rarely fight a fully grown hen.

Pigeons are probably the easiest prey for crows.

But if provided, a crow will not hesitate to eat any bird.

While people often blame crows as the main cause of declining songbirds.

However, compensatory mortality suggests that even if crows didn’t hunt birds.

Those small birds will still get eaten by some other predator. 

What Do Crows Eat Besides Birds?

Everything they can find.

Besides birds, crows may eat the following:

  1. Insects including grasshoppers, locusts, beetles, spiders, ants, grubs. 
  2. Worms like earthworms, armyworms, mealworms, caterpillars, millipedes. 
  3. Marine animals like mollusks, crabs, fishes, shellfish, crayfish, trout, sea urchins, clams.
  4. Amphibians including frogs, toads, salamanders.
  5. Reptiles including tortoises, lizards, small snakes.
  6. Mammals such as young rabbits, mice, voles, opossums, skunks, squirrels.
  7. Fresh road kills and carrion.
  8. Nuts like hazelnuts, walnuts, peanuts, pecans. 
  9. Vegetables like potatoes, peppers, peas, and beans.
  10. Grains like oats, millet, buckwheat, sorghum, corn.
  11. Seeds including pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds. 
  12. Fruits including apples, grapes, bananas, raisins, wild cherries, oaks, dogwood, figs.
  13. Berries such as pokeberries, cranberries, blueberries, juniper berries, bayberries.
  14. Others like pet food, bread, crackers, popcorn, chips, pasta.

Crows can forage throughout the day, but baby crows need to eat every half hour.

During nesting, a single crow family may consume up to 40,000 grubs or caterpillars.  

While they easily munch on insects, they have a hard time eating other animals.

In most cases, a crow will dip its piercing bill inside the eyes to scavenge the brain and then work from there to other meaty portions.

Related article – Why do crows attack hawks?

Related article you’ll definitely find interesting! – Do crows eat squirrels?


Crows rarely eat other crows.

Instead, they hold each other’s back and even hold funerals for their family members.

Although, corvid funerals are more like emergency information meetings.

However, crows do fight with each other.

Occasionally a crow may die during a fight.

Crows are not cannibalistic, only because they can eat so many other things.  

Crows are very intelligent birds and work together

They’re like a gang that protect each other

Amazing right?

Here’s some other related articles about crows

Can crows talk?

Do hawks eat crows?

Are crows afraid of owls?


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