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Are Crows Attracted to Shiny Objects? If not, Why?

Are Crows Attracted to Shiny Objects

Many think crows or other corvids like magpies are attracted to shiny objects. Is it true or just a myth?

Are crows attracted to shiny objects? The renowned Cornell crow expert Kevin McGowen says all recent empirical evidence suggests that corvids, including crows, don’t get attracted to shiny objects, nor do they love to collect them. He addresses this narrative as a myth. And he thinks it probably originated due to crows’ curiosity about shiny objects (like jewelry or metal) that have obvious value to the humans or the masters of folklore, not due to visual appeal!

Anecdotes exist regarding this particular behavior of the crows, where they occasionally steal shiny stones, metal placards, or other such objects. But they may be invalid. Because contrary to this behavior, crows seem scared of shiny things, especially those that reflect dazzling sunlight. So what’s the true nature of the crow’s attitude toward a shiny object? Let’s find out.

Are Crows Attracted to Shiny Objects? Debunking the Myth?

Crows are often thought of as hoarders of metallic objects and sparkling treasures. Are they attracted to shiny things and habituated to collecting them? Or is there any other truth behind these anecdotes?

Are Crows Attracted to Shiny Objects

Although there is anecdotal evidence about crows stealing shiny rings or bracelets, they’re not empirical. So in science, anecdotal evidence like that may not be valid in most cases. It means they could be random and don’t indicate a pattern for the crows’ behavior that could particularly link them to getting attracted to shiny things.

So why do these anecdotes or myths exist? Here we’ve figured out some possible reasons for that. Check them out below.

Shiny Objects Valued by the Master

The value that shiny objects such as coins, stones, jewelry, or other such things have to their owner makes crows get curious about them. And that’s not about the visual appeal. This phenomenon is mainly seen in crows that are kept as pets.

Slivery or Shiny Foils Used as Food Wrappers

Crows show interest in picking up shiny items from the ground or garbage cans, such as silver packaging and aluminum foil used to wrap foods. So they’re opportunistic scavengers who’re actually attracted to the meal source rather than the shiny wrappers.

Link to Superstitions

One of the key reasons the myth has developed is linking corvids like magpies and crows to different superstitions. They’re symbolized as omens of ill fortune and negativity. 

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And when these superstitious people have lost any precious metal or jewelry, they’ve depicted crows or magpies as the criminal masterminds who’ve either stolen these items or helped thieves pick them up. So these folks put their thoughts in other minds to tag crow as a hoarder of shiny and valuable things.

How Crows Behave Seeing a Shiny Thing?

The crows’ behavior toward a shiny thing varies from the wild to the ones in captivity. Let’s know what’s the attitude of both these crow types toward shiny things.

How Crows Behave Seeing a Shiny Thing

Also read: Can Crows Be Tamed?

Wild Crows

Wild adult crows are only interested in foods and nothing else. So they won’t collect or store anything other than food. A shiny silver food wrapper can confuse, and some people might misunderstand them as being attracted to shiny objects. 

Wild Crows

Young wild crows are more curious and may handle and peck things without even caring about their visual look. They love to play with stones, especially the smooth ones that may look shinier than others. These other phenomena can confuse some.

Crows in Captivity

Pet crows are great observers of what their masters do. Since shiny things like jewelry, coins, or other metallic object have importance to their owners, the crows kept as pets also become interested in them. But they’re not fans of the bling and might seem interested in other non-shiny precious things as well.

Do Crows Collect Shiny Objects?

Crows are known to be avid collectors or sometimes hoarders. But it doesn’t mean they steal or collect shiny items. The only thing crows deliberately stash is food items that they store as future meals. Crow is an intelligent corvid who hides their foods wisely and perfectly remembers to retrieve items they have hidden. 

Do Crows Collect Shiny Objects

Besides, crows don’t have a reputation for building impressive twig structures like the satin bowerbirds and decorating them with anything shiny to attract their female counterparts. So if any shiny or silvery object is found in the crow nest, it has to be purely coincidental.

Do Crows Scare of Shiny Things?

Since magpies belong to the same family as crows and have a tremendous behavioral resemblance, a study conducted on magpies may depict how their close cousin may feel about shiny things.

Scientists from Exeter University, UK, conducted an examination where they placed food alongside shiny things to record how the magpies react. The results were surprising as the magpies seemed pretty nervous about the shiny items. They were even hesitant to go for the food because of its proximity to the shiny object.

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Presumably, the result should be similar if conducted on crows. They become nervous about the shiny things that catch the sunlight and reflect their dazzling beams because they think these could be dangerous

Do Crows Scare of Shiny Things

One piece of empirical evidence that crows are scared of shiny and reflective objects is the use of scarecrows that include Holographic Flash Tape, Aluminum Pie Tins, Shiny Mylar balloons, and strips of Aluminum Foil hung on a string.

However, things that don’t have a dazzling shine and are milder, such as jewelry or small metallic objects, mightn’t scare them too much.


Check out the video below to see how shiny reflective tape is used to scare birds.


If you’ve got some more queries, check out the answers to some common FAQs below.

1. What are Crows Afraid of?

Crows can be afraid of their own reflection or long & wide shiny things such as a reflective flash tape or commercial Mylar used as scarecrows in trees and structures where crows mostly hang out.

2. What are crows attracted to the most?

The only thing crows are most attracted to is food, such as trash or food waste in the open compost, pet pellets, nuts, and other food scraps. They’ve nothing to do with the object except for some young crows who like playing with smaller things.

Final Words

The stories of crows that tag them as hoarders of shiny objects are merely old wives’ tales. Although there’s anecdotal evidence, they don’t establish anything. On the other hand, there’s empirical and practical evidence that corvids like magpies or crows aren’t attracted to shiny things; instead, they’re afraid of them.

So it’s a myth that has probably originated due to the curiosity of pet crows towards their masters’ objects of interest, such as jewelry or coins. The attempt to link the crows to superstitions and their attempt to steal food wrapped in silvery foils have also fueled the narrative of crows being avid hoarders of shiny objects. But the use of lustrous materials in the scarecrows proves that crows are actually scared of them and not attracted.


Peter Kaestner

Hi there, my name is Peter Kaestner and I am the owner of As a avid bird watcher and enthusiast with a passion for ornithology, I want to share my knowledge and experience with other bird lovers through this blog. As someone who regularly participates in bird-related forums and groups online, I am dedicated to helping others learn more about these amazing creatures. However, it's important to note that while I am happy to share my expertise and advice, it is always crucial to consult with an avian veterinarian before making any decisions that could potentially impact your bird's health or well-being. Your bird's health and happiness should always be your top priority, and consulting with a professional is the best way to ensure that you are making informed decisions on their behalf. I hope that through my blog, I can help make a positive difference in the lives of birds and the people who care for them. Whether you are an experienced bird owner or just starting out, I encourage you to use this resource as a way to learn more about these fascinating animals and how to provide them with the best possible care.View Author posts