Crows are deceivingly big birds, and they are known to be quite aggressive, too. But would they attack, or eat, a chicken given a chance? How much of a risk are they to the flock of any chicken keeper? Here is what you need to know.
So, do crows eat chickens? Crows have been known to kill and eat younger or smaller chickens, chicks, and take eggs. However, as opportunists, these instances are rare; crows are only likely to strike if conditions are favorable. This is why they are unlikely to go for adult chickens.
While crows can be feisty, they generally take the path of least resistance.
And for this reason, they have been known to eat poultry feed. And quite a lot of it; if left to their own devices.
Besides, these birds need to eat – and to them, your flock’s poultry feed is ideal.
And while this can be frustrating, and having crows around can be concerning, their presence is not always a bad thing, as you will soon discover later in this article.
Nevertheless, let us now take a closer look at how much of a threat and danger these are to your birds and the proactive and practical things you can do to keep your birds safe.
- 1 Can A Crow Kill A Chicken?
- 2 Are Crows A Danger To Chickens?
- 3 How Do I Keep Crows Away From My Chickens?
- 4 Do Crows Protect Chickens?
- 5 Finally
Can A Crow Kill A Chicken?
A crow may be able to kill a chicken, although it is unlikely they would ever attempt to do so. The only instance would be that the chicken was vulnerable, considerably smaller, isolated and the crow perceived that they could overcome them.
Crows are not birds of prey, after all.
Instead, they are opportunistic omnivores. Meaning they eat a combination of plant and animal-based foods.
When it comes to meat, small rodents, insects, eggs, worms, and invertebrates are actively sought out. Whereas for plants – it could be seeds, nuts, fruits, and grains.
So as you can see, they like to eat smaller, perhaps more vulnerable prey.
And for the most part, chickens are too large.
They would be too much of a challenge.
And as such, crows will rarely attack an adult chicken. The perceived threat is too much for them.
That being said, it has been known for crows to go for chicks, very small bantams, or very young birds.
Those that they could overcome.
But again, this would not happen unless the conditions were favorable and they could strike with minimal risk.
And more on how to make those conditions less favorable will follow in a further section – so keep reading.
And this is why they tend to go for chicken feed. It’s an easy meal.
As are the eggs that they can take and quickly get away.
This is especially true if eggs are laid outside of the coop or if the eggs are not taken quickly enough to have been laid.
And these birds are incredibly intelligent. Studies even show they rival monkeys in cognitive capacity.
So they will find a way to get into your coop if there are any vulnerabilities.
You can be assured of that.
And this is partly why they are somewhat of a risk to your young or smaller birds.
Because they know when and how to strike.
They carefully observe waiting for an opportunity.
And if a crow were able to get to a young chick, then they would not kill on site.
They would carry them away, holding them from their beak.
This is one way you can differentiate them from birds of prey (who will use their feet and talons to carry, instead).
While crows will not actively hunt or go for chickens, this does not mean that they are not a danger to chickens. And they are, of course, a danger to young chicks and smaller birds too.
Crows can be a danger to chickens for two reasons: stealing their food and transmitting disease.
Firstly, and as already mentioned, crows like to eat chicken feed.
And if they eat enough of it, especially without you noticing, your chickens will start going without.
There will not be enough to go around.
And then, there is the risk of potential malnourishment.
This is just one such reason why feed needs to be routinely monitored and regularly topped up.
Then there is the risk of disease.
Crows, as wild birds, are increasingly likely to be carrying disease.
And this could be transmitted over to your flock.
Especially when crows are birds, so it would be a bird-to-bird transmission.
For these reasons, keeping crows and other wild birds away from your chickens is not a bad idea.
Let us now look at how.
Keeping crows away from chickens is as much about distraction as it is about establishing physical boundaries.
And even if crows are aware of your human presence, they’ll still be a persistent pest if left unchecked.
Now instead of going out and killing crows via shooting or other means (which is illegal in some areas, not feasible in others), there are thankfully some humane alternatives.
Let us look at them:
Hanging A Dead Bird
It seems a bit extravagant, but it is known to work.
Just like the infamous ‘head on a spike’ of our former historical years.
The idea here is that there is a visual deterrent to other crows and birds.
‘You do not want to come here; this could be your fate.’ This is the kind of thinking.
And some keepers do this with great success.
It’s not for everyone, buts it’s an option.
Of course, where you will get a dead bird is another issue in itself.
Hang Up A Balloon
Especially in a vibrant color, such as bright pink.
You can hang this up high in your coop or run – just so long as your birds cannot pop it which will cause a fright!
The idea here is that the color resembles that of a human face, and crows are known to be quite mindful of humans.
Equally, you can also hang up CDs. The reflection of sunlight that hits the surface and distributes widely is very distracting to these birds.
Install A Scarecrow
Along similar lines, you may want to put up a scarecrow.
As the name suggests, it scares crows.
But due to the intelligence of these birds, you will need to routinely move them around.
Crows will soon notice scarecrows that do not move; and will soon realize that these are not real. They’ll cease working.
Get Some Owls
Not real ones, although that would work too.
Instead, we mean owl decoys. Those that look and even ‘act’ like the real birds.
The idea here is that crows will perceive these as a danger and stay away.
Many chicken keepers swear by them, and they’re very cost-effective and easy to get over at Amazon:
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Setting up polypropylene tape is another useful approach.
The tape will make a very specific sound whenever there is wind, and this will stop crows from hanging around. It can distract them and make them want to move elsewhere.
You could consider using traps, assuming that you check with the local authorities and ensure these are legal to use.
The Larsen Trap is one such example, as you can see from the following video:
You may need a license, and there are rules to follow, but they can be very effective.
They are a live catch trap; without killing and without any physical harm.
You can entice crows in using food and later release them somewhere further afield.
Such as far away from your property.
The benefit of the Larsen trap is that one captured crow is enough to deter other crows from coming nearby.
These are very territorial birds and will soon disperse if they identify another crow (unless they are willing and able to fight for it).
This is not an ideal option for everyone, but it is suitable and an option to explore.
Keep Your Chickens Inside Or Covered
Perhaps the most effective, long-term strategy for keeping your birds safe from crows and other birds – overhead protection.
Keeping your chickens inside or in a covered run is very effective, especially when your birds are still young and small.
Remove Vantage Points
Along with other birds, Crows will seek out high vantage points to watch and observe the events that unfold below.
One way you can help protect your chickens and keep crows away is to remove these kinds of access points.
Not all can or may even be able to be removed, but some usually can.
Generally, the less opportunity for crows to sit around undetected and plan any attempts for food, the better.
Omnivores by nature, crows, do well on a sheer variety of food.
So, reducing the amount of or access to any food on your property is generally a good idea.
Whether you are growing your own crops, leaving nuts and seeds out for all birds, or you have other edible plants on your property, it’s best to remove or minimize them.
Do Crows Protect Chickens?
Crows will not proactively protect chickens or go out of their way to do so. They can, however, inadvertently protect chickens through their presence. Equally, crows being around indicates that other birds of prey are not.
The good news is that having crows in your area, on your property, and around your birds can be helpful.
For instance, if a bird of prey were to drop by, the crows would soon disperse, and you and your birds could identify a danger nearby.
As such, your chickens can be alerted to potential attacks from other, more ruthless hunters.
They may be able to get to cover sooner, and this time could make all the difference.
At the same time, with crows in the area, the lower the chances of a bird of prey going for a chicken; they are likely to go for the crow itself.
So, just by being there, a crow could protect a chicken.
Not trying to, of course.
Lastly, do consider that a crow, or a couple of crows, would not be hanging around if there were any perceived threats.
Crows hate hawks and other birds of prey.
They have even been known to mob together as a collective group to drive away these predatory birds.
They will harass these birds until they leave to protect themselves, their own young, and even any eggs.
So chances are if you do have crows around, your chickens are somewhat safer than without.
But they do need to be kept at a distance; you do not want them getting close to your birds (for risk of disease transmission) or able to steal your bird’s feed.
For reasons as already mentioned.
Crows are a threat to your chickens, but perhaps in ways, you may not have previously thought.
For the most part, crows will not attack or eat chickens.
They are not really considered predators by chicken keepers, and they are not classified as birds of prey.
That being said, there have been occasional reports of crows going for chicks, young chickens, and smaller birds.
So it is absolutely something to be mindful.
Especially if you have any of these in your flock.
And do be sure to keep your chickens safe at all times. Not just from crows but from other potential birds of prey.
Thankfully if crows are around, chances are birds of prey are not.
But this runs the other way too.
So be vigilant and observant.
Lastly, if you have crows in your area or have noticed them around your chickens, it is best to become aware of these birds and their tendencies.
Research into them a little.
For instance, crows live in pairs and are territorial birds.
So, if you are able to remove a pair, you may get others to come to replace them in the territory.
Crows are also very intelligent and quickly pick up on routines, both of you and your birds. They’ll soon learn when and when not to be around, go for feed, the eggs, etc.
So remain attentive.
These are just a few things to get you started. Keep learning about these birds and any others you have in your area.
This will help to keep your chickens safe and eggs – well, left for you!