Waste reduction around the home.
Feed your crows?


Don’t know if this is for everyone, or even if this would be a good idea on a large scale, but on a small scale, our local crows seem to like to come and visit.

A number of years ago, some friends, my wife, and I were sitting around, cold beer in hand, enjoying a sunny afternoon, when the topic of bird feeders came into the conversation.  Our friend mentioned that she and her husband feed the crows around their home.  “What?”  As everyone sat up looking at her like she was crazy.  “You feed crows?”

Ok… “What do you feed crows?”  “Old left-overs, actually the meat that is in the back of the fridge and too far gone, that would otherwise go into the garbage.”   Is what she told us.

Quoting from Dorling Kindersley Handbooks - Birds of Canada; Crows are gregarious, omnivorous, eating insects, many other small invertebrates from millipedes to snails, small amphibians, small reptiles, small mammals, eggs and the young of other birds, waste corn and other grains, fruits, field crops, garbage, and carrion.   It’s the last two words here that help some of us reduce our waste.

My wife and I have been composting for years, and as anyone who composts knows; NO MEAT.  Meat will slowly decompose, and leave a lingering and not too pleasant aroma in the air.  More importantly, meats in the composter will attract rats, and other not so agreeable vermin.  In the past, we would throw out all the meats that were part of our left over leftovers.  Feeding the crows seemed like an opportunity to coax these marvelous birds out of the trees, and to reduce our waste just a little bit more.

We happen to have an elevated wood deck with a wide railing around it, wide enough to place a heavy clay plant saucer on, and not readily accessible to raccoons, so we gave it a try.  The first morning crow menu consisted of left over breakfast sausage and some old chicken.  We placed it on the saucer and went away.  Low and behold, when we check back a few hours later, the meat was gone.  Great! 

We put out more meat the next morning, and it to disappeared, then the next and the next.  As it turned out we fed them about five or six days in a row, until we happen to not have anything to give them.  The next morning, TAP TAP TAP.  “What’s that?”  I walked though the house to investigate.  There, a crow tapping the glass door with its beak, a big black crow, as if to say, “where’s my breakfast?”  As I came closer it backed off and flew away.

The next morning we also didn’t have any food for them and again – TAP TAP TAP.  This was wild, like something from a movie script.  Any morning that we didn’t have meat out for them they would let us know they were there.  Crows are supposed to be one of the smartest types of bird, and here we were witness to some interesting behavior. 

Luckily for us, they quickly tired of tapping the door, but we remain part of their morning rounds.  They come by, landing up high in the trees, and spy down on our deck.  If we have left them some tasty morsel, they swoop down, do their little dance to see if the meat we left them is actually alive and ready to grab them, and only after they are satisfied that the thing is actually dead, they grab it and take off back into the trees.

For anyone even slightly into bird watching, it’s amazingly cool to see these birds up close, and only then do you really get a sense of how big they are.  Not only do we reduce our garbage a little, but, the meat we provide them during the winter months can make a big difference in helping them to get through the season.

So, reduce, reuse, and if it works for you, feed the crows.