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Crows are omnivorous hunters and scavengers. They’ll eat berries and insects as often as they tear into a small animal or a fresh corpse that they’ve stumbled across. For this reason, crows have been known to eat squirrels and will hunt baby squirrels if they’re hungry enough. Adult squirrels, however, are a much larger and difficult target, so crows tend to leave them alone.
To help you learn more about whether your neighborhood crows are making a feast of your squirrel population, we put together this guide to answer frequently asked questions.
Like other hunters, crows will always pick the easiest target when they’re searching for food. It’s part of the reason that they eat anything that they can find and are primarily scavengers. When they’re in groups, crows have been known to attack baby birds or young squirrels. Even your kitten isn’t entirely safe if your neighborhood crows are hungry enough.
Squirrels, while they seem friendly enough as they chase each other around trees, aren’t afraid to fight back. Crows will sometimes pick on the adults, but as both animals are the same size, they tend to leave each other alone. Squirrels will respond aggressively if the crow gets particularly persistent about heckling them.
Baby squirrels, being smaller and less able to defend themselves like their adult counterparts, are much easier targets. For a murder of crows, taking advantage of a baby squirrel left unattended is a simple way to get a meal. In the same way, an injured, dying, or already dead adult squirrel is a treat that a hungry crow won’t pass up.
Regardless of the species, mother animals are always fiercely protective of their young. Squirrels and crows are no different, and both will defend their babies with everything that they’ve got.
Mother squirrels, when faced with a threat to their young, are dangerous. Their aggression toward predators that they know that they can beat, crows being one of them, is one reason that crows don’t pick too many fights with healthy adult squirrels. It’s much easier to seek out something that won’t fight back than it is to risk getting fatally injured themselves.
Although they’re often hunted by crows — even if the crows are often unsuccessful — adult squirrels don’t fear them. You’ll usually see both squirrels and crows hanging out by a bird feeder to eat, despite neither animal truly getting along.
There’s too much contention between the species for them to be friendlier beyond co-existence. When you consider a crow’s tendency to eat injured or baby squirrels and pester the adults, this mutual disdain but resigned tolerance is understandable.
If you find a dead squirrel being eaten by a murder of crows, it can be easy to assume that it was the crows that killed it. But as opportunistic scavengers, sometimes the crows are merely benefiting from good luck. Since crows won’t fight healthy adult squirrels to death, it’s more likely that another predator nearby did all the work.
Related Read: Do Owls Eat Squirrels? Everything You Want to Know!
It might be surprising to you that it’s not just crows that take advantage of their proximity to squirrels. While squirrels won’t hunt adult crows or eat their young, they have been known to raid the nests and eat the eggs. Some species, like the flying squirrel, may devour baby crows, but it’s less likely.
Related Read: Do Crows Eat Other Birds? Everything You Need to Know!
Crows do eat squirrels but they don’t attack healthy adults. They’re opportunistic hunters and will rely on scavenging for already dead squirrels or picking easier targets. If a crow does attack a squirrel, it’s likely to be a young, defenseless target. An exception is squirrels that are severely injured or dying; otherwise, healthy adult squirrels put up too much of a fight for crows to dare risk attacking them.
If you find a crow eating a dead squirrel, consider that other predators might have left their catch behind or the squirrel had already suffered a fatal injury. Crows aren’t fussy when it comes to food and won’t turn their nose — or rather, beak — up at a free meal, even if it’s already dead.
You might also be interested in: Crows vs Ravens: How to Tell the Difference (With Pictures)
Featured Image Credit: Guy William, Shutterstock
Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.
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