In a soft release a bird gets the opportunity to gradually adapt to the new environment / life in freedom with human help
In a hard release a bird is released directly in the new environment (or where it has been found) without help
How and when to release crows, crows and jackdaws
Hand-bred chicks of most bird species, including all crow species, should be released “softly”. This also applies to adult birds, which have been in captivity for more than two weeks, or which are released in a place where they were not originally found, which is sometimes necessary when this place is not considered suitable or safe.
Soft release involves continued care of the birds at the release site. This includes extra feeding and protection and requires a greater commitment of time and effort than a Hard release usually does. Soft release is especially important for hand-bred individuals of species who need to learn more about their environment and need to acquire appropriate knowledge and experience of how to acquire food through hunting and exploration. This method also allows previously hand-bred birds to become completely independent, as no animal should be released while still dependent on human help.
Hard release is a form of release where an animal can simply leave a transport container or be released from their hands without additional care or feed. It is most suitable for juvenile and adult animals, which have been kept in captivity for only a short time,
Release birds in groups
It is generally accepted that many bird species benefits from being released in groups. This also applies to crows, which are best released in mixed age groups consisting of, for example, hand-bred young birds and adult birds. Crows should not grow up without “friends”, as otherwise it is almost impossible to avoid imprinting. Imprinting can be a major risk factor and can potentially significantly reduce the chances of survival, depending on the degree of imprinting and the type of release chosen. An “examination” is often possible but must not take place too late, and requires experience, long-term care and a suitable rehabilitation facility
Feather costume condition and general development
A common mistake in the animal rehabilitation world is to release a bird that does not have a perfect plumage.
Birds with malnutrition can have a leucistic plumage. This type of fragile plumage often deteriorates rapidly after these birds are released prematurely.
When these birds begin their normal life in the wild, they will most likely become handicapped (they have trouble flying) soon. A premature release condemns these birds to long-term suffering and probable death.
Release time, age and species choice
In general, juvenile crows and long-term adult bird patients should not be released during their respective species breeding season, as there is a high risk that they will be attacked or harassed.
Releasing a herd consisting of individuals in mixed age groups works best, such as juveniles together with adult birds. The latter have a great advantage due to their acquired knowledge, which includes knowledge of local geography and experience of previous contact with birds from the neighborhood. By creating groups of individuals of mixed ages, the birds will learn from each other and begin to make friends and alliances, giving them an edge once they get out into the wild.
Depending on their individual development, jackdaws can be released “softly” soon after the breeding season, which is usually in late July and early August. Finding a good drop off place is usually not a problem, as most places are suitable, as long as there are other jackdaws nearby. If there are crows and some jackdaws, then it also works well.
Do not release any birds in an area that belongs to a crow or magpies. Then their new life begins immediately with quarrels (which sometimes lead to death).
In short, you can not let crows, jackdaws and magpies be together. (Although they may have been together in a rehab facility)
Crows and rooks can be released in late September and early October, preferably in mixed age groups. Even if the breeding season ends a little earlier, parental responsibility will continue for several months to come, but in late summer and early autumn, social interactions will be more relaxed and adults will focus more on themselves, which means they will be less aggressive and dominant. This situation also gives the young birds more time to gain the strength, social skills and self-confidence they need to be sufficiently prepared for their lives in the wild. The release process usually takes several weeks and can last as long as the end of November. Birds in the crow family in general, but especially crows and rooks, usually need their time to decide. Birds, which have not left the aviary at the end of November, or have returned to the aviary again, will stay for another year. It’s best that way, they are not ready yet for a life in freedom.
One or even sometimes two years extra can make a big difference, and a situation that at first did not look promising may look completely different. or two years later. This is especially true for birds that show a delayed development, which often need a year and sometimes longer to catch up with their stronger siblings. At the end of November, you should stop releasing corvids.
Support birds for as long as needed.
A soft release place is best located outside or at least on the edge of an occupied crow area or magpie area. The size of the crow areas seems to vary slightly and is usually smaller during the breeding season. It is also worth knowing that a crow’s territory does not change over time. It only gets a new “owner”.
It is of great advantage when there is a territory nearby, which is not owned by crow parents but by younger crows. This allows young crows to join a group of individuals their own age and have the benefit of being protected by the group, which is also ideal for their further social development.
Areas close to rookeries (where crows have their nests ) are also suitable release sites and are also very advantageous before release, as the potential release candidates will benefit from social interactions with local visitors (when in outdoor cages)
How big should the release cages be?
They should be as large as possible. The birds need to train their muscles. Keep in mind that the birds must be able to fly in the cage. The ceiling should be high and the aviary should be as long as you can afford to build.
The inside should resemble the natural habitat so that the birds can engage in natural behavior and learn, for example, to find and cache (= hide ) food.
Half the roof should be covered for shade and protection, while the other half should let in sunlight and rain. There should preferably be trees and vegetation in and around the aviary as well as a natural bottom (floor), tree trunks, windbreaks and natural perches in the aviary.