It can be disconcerting to wake up in the morning when you pull the curtains back, only to see a “murder” of crows on your grass lawn, seemingly eating at something, but you can’t tell what.
Sadly, crows have a bad reputation. Humans have associated this bird with bad things for centuries, so I get the concerns.
The desire to know what crows are eating in your yard is understandable. Not only can it look scary (to some people), but it could also indicate some other tasty critters are in your garden.
What crows are eating in your yard, lawn grass, or garden could be anything. Crows are opportunistic omnivores who eat whatever they can find. However, there are things crows will eat in a yard that are more likely than others like earthworms and chafer beetles.
The bottom line is, you won’t know what it is the crows are eating in your grass unless you take a closer look, and even then, you might not be able to tell. Which is why my notes below will help you figure it all out.
What do crows eat in my yard?
Here are the possibilities, then towards the bottom of the page I will explain how the crows know where to look for these food sources in your backyard.
1. Chafer beetles, grubs, and bugs
One of the more likely food sources crows have found in your yard to snack on will be chafer beetles (Rhizotrogus majalis). This invasive species originated in Europe but is now found all over North America… and crows love to eat them as grubs and will peck at lawns to find them!
This will happen in late winter through to early spring when chafer beetle grubs start feeding on your backyard lawn. This makes the grubs lovely and juicy, and very tasty to crows.
Crows will start digging at the grass on your lawn to get to the chafer beetle grubs. If you don’t scare them off, it can lead to a lot of damage to the grass root systems.
Many gardeners will try to get rid of the chafer grubs as that will have the knock-on effect of getting rid of the crows coming to the yard. There’s this grub killer on Amazon which has good reviews.
It might not be chafer beetles that crows are eating in your yard, but instead another type of insect – the possibilities are endless as a family of crows are estimated to eat up to 40,000 insects a season.
The likely culprits that are attracting crows eating on your lawn are:
- Butterflies or moths.
- Centipedes or millipedes.
- Crickets, grasshoppers, or locusts.
…and any larvae that insects lay in your backyard.
Earthworms are another distinct possibility. Like other birds, crows can detect worms.
2. Fallen fruits or seeds
Other things that crows will eat in your garden or backyard include items that have fallen onto or been scattered on the lawn.
Crows eat meat, but also fruit and nuts. That means if you have a fruit tree in your yard which apples or berries are falling from, crows can then eat those off the grass lawn.
Similarly, the love to eat seeds and nuts.
They might also be attracted by grass seed if you are in the process of relaying turf in your yard.
3. Dead animals
Crows are one of the animal kingdom’s least fussy eaters. As well as making a swoop for your trash, they will also clean up any roadkill or carcasses that they find, including in your yard.
If a predator has killed and left a dead rodent on your lawn, crows will be on it in a flash.
Those above are the three most likely scenarios to explain what crows are eating in your yard. But there’s a little more to it, which might help you understand the issue further.
FAQs on crows eating in backyards
How do crows know where grubs are?
I don’t believe that crows have in-built radar that lets them figure out where grubs are. Instead, I think crows know where chafer grubs are out of habit.
Crows will know the time of year, type of lawn, and depth to which chafer beetle grubs will be in a yard, so will try their luck to see what they find.
How do crows find worms?
Like other birds, crows will find worms to eat in your yard by either seeing them, or by hearing them. The RSPB website say this about blackbirds, which I assume could also be applied to how crows find worms too:
“Blackbirds find earthworms in one of two ways, either by spotting the tail or head end of the worm sticking out of a burrow entrance, or by sound. Blackbirds have remarkably acute hearing and can detect invertebrates moving under the surface of the ground.”
Why are crows pecking at my lawn?
As we’ve managed to establish, crows will be pecking at your lawn to find something to eat. The possibilities will include a range of insects, with the chafer beetle grub being a likely option given how much crows love to eat them.
Crows will eat almost anything; they are opportunistic omnivores who will often be attracted to lawns in yards.
They will feed on things that they find out in the open or on the ground. If you think about what they would be “in the wild” it’s things like earthworms. It will also be fruit that has fallen from a tree.
But they biggest and most favorite things that crows like to be eating in a yard will be a chafer grub. If you can get rid of those, chances are, crows won’t come back.
More backyard guides…
Image of crow on a lawn from https://unsplash.com/photos/fpapz9ItLqw