By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

Our winter-over wildlife patients at PAWS are settling in for the winter. Bobcat 142086 08182014 JM (1)

Three of our Bears are starting to hibernate and our Bobcat kittens have been introduced to each other; they will be spending the winter together.

Our two Bobcat patients came to us as small orphans, one in July (pictured, top) and one in October (pictured, bottom).

Overall they were both healthy but they were too young to survive on their own. They have been housed in separate enclosures until now.

Although Bobcats are generally solitary animals we have introduced our Bobcat kittens to each other so they can grow up together.

This will allow them to learn from each other and maintain their feisty attitude, which is essential for their survival in the wild. Bobcat 143277 Intake 10302014 JM (6)

Bobcats do not hibernate and are active all year round.

This means our two Bobcat kittens will
continue to be active all winter long.

To stimulate their natural predator instincts rehabilitators hide their food all around their enclosure encouraging them to use all of their senses to “hunt”.

Our video below gives a special behind-the-scenes glimpse into our Bobcat enclosure at PAWS Wildlife Center, where you can see our Bobcat kittens searching for food.

Can't see the video? Try watching it on our PAWS Vimeo channel instead.

More winter updates to come…


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 Find out what to do and how PAWS can help.
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By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

Two very small owls got a lucky break in November when they were brought to PAWS Wildlife Center for care.

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One was a two ounce Northern Pygmy-Owl who was found on the ground unable to fly, and the other was a three ounce Northern Saw-Whet Owl who was a victim of a cat attack.

Both owls are so small they could fit in the palm of your hand.

But don’t let their size fool you, they’re not babies.

Adult Pygmy-Owls are less than seven inches long with a 12 inch wing span, and adult Saw-Whet Owls are slightly larger with a 17 inch wing span.

These two owl species are among the smallest in North America and although they are similar in size they have very different behavior.

Pygmy-Owls (pictured, top) are active during the day and hunt by sight. They have a generalized diet, eating insects, reptiles, birds and small mammals. Able to catch birds in mid-air, they're known to eat birds twice their own size!

Perhaps their most distinguishing feature is the two black patches on the back of their head (pictured, middle), which mimic eyes and ward off predators.

In contrast, Saw-Whet Owls (pictured, bottom) are active at night and hunt using their hearing. They eat mostly small mammals, which they catch from low perches. They are very secretive and have irregular movement patterns.

Our two owl patients were treated for wing droops that were impeding their flight. 

After a few weeks of cage rest and flight testing these tiny patients were deemed healthy, and released back into the wild the week of November 23.


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Found a wild animal? Find out what to do and how PAWS can help.


By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

PAWS Wildlife Center recently contributed to a Merlin research study being conducted in the Seattle area that is focusing on their ecology and adaptation to living in an urban environment.

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On November 9 a Merlin, who struck a window in Seattle, was brought to PAWS for medical attention. Upon arrival the Merlin was found to have some bruising and an injured shoulder. He was put on cage rest and was under observation to monitor his condition.

By November 15 he was flying well in his outside enclosure and taken out of veterinarian care. By November 18 he was ready to be released. That's when we called in the Merlin researchers.

Merlins are a relatively small raptor with a wingspan of 2 feet and weighing in at less than half a pound.There are three sub-species of Merlin found in North America with the black Merlin calling Washington its home year round.

Black Merlins nest in Seattle and were first documented doing so in 2008. Little is known about the basic ecology of this subspecies and it is the subject of a recent research study conducted by Ben Vang-Johnson (Puget Sound Bird Observatory Board Member) and Kim McCormick (Seattle Audubon Member).

The focus of their study is to determine nest site characteristics, nesting success, site fidelity (returning to the same site to breed), pair fidelity (staying with the same mate), track annual movements and juvenile dispersal as well as estimate nest density of black Merlins in the Seattle area.

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In order to collect data for their study Ben and Kim have been banding Merlins in the Seattle area under a federal bird banding permit.

Merlins are captured in the wild, a silver numeric band is placed on one leg and a colored band (blue or red) is placed on the other leg, then they are released. Each band has a number or letter code on it identifying the individual Merlin (pictured right).

By monitoring the banded birds and by receiving sightings from the public Ben and Kim will have the data they need to help us better understand these fascinating birds.

On the morning of November 18, Ben and Kim stopped by the Wildlife Center to band our Merlin patient. They took several measurements, got his weight, and took photos of any feather markings. Once banded PAWS staff transported and released him back to where he was found near Lake Washington. Now we wait with hope that he is seen again and contributes valuable information for this important study.

Can't see the video? Try watching it on our PAWS Vimeo channel instead.

If you see a banded merlin, or merlin breeding activity, please contact Ben or Kim.


Found a wild animal?
 Find out what to do and how PAWS can help.
Make a gift and help us continue providing a safe haven for wildlife in need.


By Katherine Spink, PAWS Staff

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, we're thankful for all the wonderful people who visit PAWS with adoption in mind, and give our adorable adoptables a second chance at life—including Steph, who came into Summer's life in September 2013. 

What made you decide to adopt from a shelter?
My family always got our pets from shelters so, from a very young age, I learned the importance of adopting animals in need rather than buying them from breeders.

Summer 2

How did you first find out about Summer?
I found her on the PAWS website. I loved her description and thought she'd be a perfect fit for me.

Summer was the name she came with and it seems to fit her so well. She answers to her name and even comes when we call her.

What was it that most attracted you to her?
I first fell in love with her look. She's a largish girl, half fluff, with a very pretty coat and face. Summer also has the personality I wanted in a cat; mellow, people loving, cuddle bug, and talkative.

The way she was described online was fairly spot on, which was very helpful to me in choosing between the options I had.

How was your adoption experience with PAWS?
A member of staff had had a lot of one on one time with Summer so I was able to chat with her to get more info about the kitty I was taking home.

Her previous owner had also filled out a long survey detailing a lot of information about her, so I was able to learn a lot about her that I couldn't see while she was in the shelter.

The meet and greet rooms were nice for getting a little time with the cats one on one. Checking out the colony rooms was fun too.

Briefly tell us about your first journey home and how the “settling in” period went. 
Summer was in her little cardboard kitty box and was very quiet. She would put her little paw out of one of the holes to reach out and touch me in the car. When I got home I had my bathroom all set up for her to spend her first few days settling in. I opened up the box and she started to purr, and gave me a dainty little mew.

Summer hung out in a hooded cat bed for a bit. Since she was so relaxed I decided to open the door and let her explore if she wanted. It wasn't long before she cuddled with me on the couch, then flopped on the floor on her back with her white tummy all exposed. It certainly didn't take long for her to get comfortable!

What have you experienced together since Summer became a part of your family?
We actually moved across the country together this summer, as I got into graduate school in North Carolina.

Summer 3

Five days in the car may have been rough with any other pet, but Summer did it like a champ! It took until day 3 for her to decide she was done with it and start yelling at us to go home (see picture below)!

 

I've also discovered she's not a very good huntress. I told her that since the new apartment had a pet rent of $10 each month she would need to kill some of the bugs we were finding in the house. The south is full of bugs.

Well, she tried, but she prefers to find the bug and cry while sitting next to it until I come over and squish it.

How has Summer changed your life?
She's given me a greater appreciation for older cats. When I was choosing between her and other potential cats, several people told me it was foolish to get an older pet as I wouldn't have as much time with her as I would a younger pet.

If I'd listened to them, I wouldn't have gotten Summer and that would have been a shame. She is perfect for me and brings me so much joy.

Any Thanksgiving plans?
If she has her way, Summer will be eating all of the turkey!

Thanks for sharing your story Steph, and for being Summer's animal hero! 

Find your Summer todayadopt.
Donate now and help us continue providing a safe place for companion animals in need.


By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

The end of October marked the release of some special spring patients from PAWS Wildlife Center. Five River Otters, who staff had been caring for since May, were finally old enough to fend for themselves and survive on their own in the wild.

When they came to us back in the spring they weighed two pounds and were only a few weeks old. Three of them were siblings whose mother had been killed by a trapper and the other two were found orphaned and alone.

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The five pups were introduced to each other and housed together where they played and romped around like wild River Otter babies should. They were given enrichment items and experiences to stimulate natural feeding behaviors, a large pool to swim and dive in, and they were monitored remotely by our rehabilitators to ensure they were growing, behaving and socializing normally.

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And that they were!

By the end of August their behavior and size demanded that we needed to split them up into two groups. This gave them more room to romp and ensured they did not become food aggressive with each other. The three siblings were kept together and the other two were moved to another enclosure where they awaited release.

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By mid-October it was apparent that these, once little, otter pups had grown into sleek sub-adults and were ready to face the wild on their own.

PAWS collaborated with the King County Parks Department to research and choose very suitable release sites for both groups. The group of two otters was released on October 20, and the three siblings were released on October 28.

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Seeing these otters experience Puget Sound for the first time was quite an event. Staff and volunteers looked on as they explored their new home; sniffing and feeling the rocks, rolling in the incoming waves and running along the beach in unison. They were obviously excited to be released into their natural habitat.

We wish them luck and were so happy to see them back in the wild where they belong.

Make a donation and help us continue providing a safe haven for recovering wildlife at PAWS.
Found a wild animal? Find out what to do and how PAWS can help.


By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

The beginning of November marks one of the biggest releases of the year at PAWS Wildlife Center, our Black-tailed deer release.

This year we cared for five deer throughout the spring and summer who all came to us in May as spotted fawns (pictured below, with ear tags used to identify individuals). These youngsters were all assumed to be orphaned as some were seen alone for more than 24 hours and others were found standing near their deceased mother or sibling.

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Columbian Black-tailed deer are classified as a subspecies of the mule deer; their range is from southern Canada to central California and are found along the Pacific coast east to the Cascades.

They are the most common deer subspecies in Washington and are very similar in appearance to Rocky Mountain mule deer. However, black-tailed deer are smaller and have a broader tail that is completely covered with black hairs.

They are very adaptable and can live in a variety of habitats. Their main food source is browse (the growing tips of trees and shrubs) but they also eat fruit, nuts, acorns, fungi, and lichens.

Black-tailed deer are even adaptable in how they evade predators and have evolved several tactics in addition to hiding.

Their large ears and excellent vision help them detect danger from up to 1800 feet away. They will either leave the area before the predator gets too close or try to outmaneuver it. They do so by effectively using characteristics of the terrain such as boulders, steep slopes, ledges, trees, and deadfall to place obstacles between them and their predator.

They will also erratically change direction when being perused and they may even release a scent that alarms others triggering a group formation for protection.

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Black-tailed deer breed during the fall and give birth in mid to late spring. During their first few weeks of life the fawns will be left alone for extended periods of time while their mother forages.

While alone the fawns lay flat and motionless, in a bed of grass, and their white spots camouflage them from predators. As they become stronger they feed alongside mom and are no longer dependent on her by the end of the summer.

While the deer are at PAWS our rehabilitators work very hard to raise them so that they don't become habituated. They do so by limiting all human contact to a minimum.

They have a specialized way to feed the deer formula, they spend many hours throughout the summer collecting and delivering browse, and making sure their enclosure is cleaned without direct contact with the fawns.

This takes a lot of hard work and seeing the deer released is a very meaningful event.

On November 6th the five deer they'd cared for all summer were released on large tracts of land far from people.

Our staff and volunteers looked on as the deer explored their new habitat and made their way deeper into the forest.

Found a wild animal? Find out what to do and how PAWS can help.


By Caitlin Soden, Wildlife Volunteer Program Manager

It’s a pleasure to feature Jodi Gaylord this month! Jodi started volunteering for PAWS just three months ago but she dived right in and quickly became a vital part of the team. Her positive attitude and go get ‘em nature make her such a delight, so I jumped at the chance to find out about her experiences as a PAWS Wildlife Center volunteer.

Here’s what she had to say:

Jodi

How did you come to volunteer for PAWS?
After we moved to Seattle last winter, my husband saw a call for PAWS volunteers in an online newspaper. Knowing how crazy I am about wildlife, he sent me link and I decided to see if PAWS’ philosophies gelled with my own.

What’s it like to be a volunteer with us?
BUSY! There is a lot to do and it always seems like we are racing the clock. With a few key exceptions (squirrels, anyone?), there is not a lot of hands-on animal handling. You have to check the urge to ooh and ahh at these wild patients so I also do a weekly shift at the Companion Animal Shelter.

With so many wonderful organizations to choose from why do you continue to support PAWS?
PAWS makes it easy to give something of yourself. Supporting an organization often means giving financial support, which is critical, but is never as personally fulfilling as I desire. Knowing that I play even a small part in the rehabilitation and release of a wild animal gives me a deep sense of satisfaction.

Is there anyone specific that has influenced your decision to continue volunteering?
Not any one person but an attitude. There is an atmosphere of “ask me anything” that permeates PAWS Wildlife Center. The staff are eager to share their knowledge and don’t look upon my curiosity as an intrusion.

What is the most fun you’ve had at PAWS Wildlife Center?
Cleaning the raccoon silos. Their intense curiosity makes them so much fun to observe. You can almost see their brains working as they explore their surroundings, including trying to figure out what that funny thing is we call a “broom” and attempting to catch raindrops in their paws.

What do you do when you aren’t volunteering?
Appropriately enough, I am a wildlife and landscape photographer - my husband and I run City Escapes Nature Photography. Otherwise, I lead a pretty stereotypically-domesticated life. I read like crazy, knit, crochet and bake. I am learning to play an instrument and live to spoil my husband.

What might someone be surprised to learn about you?
I don’t have a pet! I grew up with many animals including goats, chickens and even a cockatiel that flew into our house and set up shop, but my husband is terribly allergic. I share my love of wildlife with him through our travels since you really shouldn’t be getting close enough to an elephant or polar bear for your allergies to kick in.

Inspired by Jodi? Become a PAWS volunteer today and help keep Washington State wildlife thriving!
No spare time to volunteer? There's another way you can help us continue helping wild animals in need. Donate now.
Find out more about wildlife rehabilitation at PAWS.


By Jennifer Convy & Jen Mannas, PAWS Wildlife Center

Fall is in full swing at PAWS and at this time of year we typically receive seabirds at our Wildlife Center.

Washington State’s hundreds of miles of coastline bordering Puget Sound and the Pacific Ocean make it a great year round home for many seabird species. As seabirds move to their wintering habitats in the open ocean from Washington’s inland lakes, they form large feeding flocks in the open oceans. These flocks can be comprised of thousands of birds of various species, all susceptible to large storms, oil spills and obstacles such as fishing nets.

Gill-nets are commonly used in the Pacific Ocean to catch several species of fish including salmon and tuna. These nets are set at different depths in the water column to target certain species of fish and are extremely difficult to see in the water. Unfortunately this means that other species of wildlife, including seabirds and marine mammals can become entangled in these nets.

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This is what happened recently to two adult Rhinoceros Auklets that were brought to our Wildlife Center on October 21st. Luckily for them the fisherman, or fisherwoman in this case, was able to remove the birds safely from the net and bring them to PAWS for care.

PAWS rehabilitation and veterinary staff examined the auklets shortly after their arrival to find no apparent injuries. Like all seabirds we care for, we then monitored the auklets in a pool enclosure to determine if their water proofing had been compromised in any way from the entanglement.

Seabirds have an intricate feather pattern responsible for their waterproofing qualities; enabling them to float properly, dive deep for feeding, evade danger and to stay dry and warm while in their aquatic environment. In order to maintain this complex waterproofing system seabirds regularly preen their feathers back into alignment each day. If anything such as a net or oil damages their feather patterns, and they are unable to realign their feathers into place quickly and easily, the feather waterproofing system is compromised and seabirds can get hypothermia resulting in either beaching themselves or drowning.

It is a common misunderstanding to assume all water birds can float just because they are seabirds or ducks, instead their floating success all depends on their waterproofing abilities.

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After observing these auklets swimming and diving at PAWS we noticed that the waterproofing structure on their back feathers needed a bit more preening and realignment to ensure these birds would be successful post-release. They stayed at PAWS a few more days to allow them time to completely preen their feathers into place, eat well and be strong and ready for the cold ocean again.

After just 3 days in our care their feathers were back in tip-top shape and they were ready to swim free in Puget Sound once again, which is where they were released on October 24th.

Make a donation and help us continue providing a safe haven for recovering wildlife at PAWS.

Found a wild animal? Find out what to do and how PAWS can help.


By Katherine Spink, PAWS Staff

The Foster Care Program here at PAWS saves more than 1,600 animals every year and ensures that every dog and cat brought to us, no matter how small or in need, gets that second chance at life.

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In this feature, we go behind the scenes with foster care volunteer Emily Garwood—who's been part of our dedicated team for seven years—and find out what she loves about being a foster mom for animals in need. 

What does your role involve?
I foster cats and kittens. I already have a cat and a dog (Ray, pictured with Emily opposite), so for me it's just adding one more to the mix and sharing my bathroom for a couple of weeks (that's where I home my foster animals for the most part).

PAWS provides all the medication and veterinary needs for the animal. I supply food, water, litter and love!

What made you decide to get involved at PAWS?
I moved to Seattle in September 2003 and didn't know a single person. I decided to find an organization to volunteer for, thinking that I would meet people that had some of the same interests as me. My love of animals drew me to PAWS.

Tell us some of your favorite things about fostering.
I love knowing that I had a part in helping an animal on their journey to finding a forever home. Getting to really spend time with the animals is an honor, and I love helping potential adopters get a better idea of the true personality of animal. They can be so different in a home setting, away from the shelter.

And kittens... how else can you have kittens as much as you want?!

What are some of the challenges involved in fostering?
Sometime bad things happen, an animal is really sick or a kitten doesn't make it without its mother. I cry but I always trust PAWS staff to make the right and humane decision. 

How do you feel when it’s time to give your foster furries back?
It's hard but I also know that if I keep this one, I can't help the next one.

What makes a good foster caregiver?
A big heart and lots of love. Also being realistic, knowing that you will fall in love with the animals you care for but you can't keep them all.

Wobbles-E-Appeal-Main-Image,-Oct-22-2014 Share one of your favorite foster animals.
Recently I fostered Wobbles (pictured right), a cat who came to PAWS with a broken pelvis that meant strict cage rest for about 2 months.

Knowing that I was able to help him to heal and be put up for adoption is an amazing feeling. I know someone will be able to look past his special needs and see the great cat he is.

What advice would you give to anyone considering fostering for PAWS?
Try it! It doesn't take a lot and you make a huge difference.

What do you do when you’re not fostering?
I'm a nanny full time for three children under 4. I love to cook, bake, read and travel, exploring new places and seeing new things.

Inspired by Emily? Join our Foster Care Team today.

No spare time to volunteer? There's another way you can help us. Donate now.

Find out what happened to four orphaned puppies who were cared for by the Foster Care team this summer. 


By Jen Mannas, Naturalist

The end of April marks the start of baby raccoon season at PAWS.

When young raccoons first arrive at our wildlife center most are very small and their eyes are still closed. They are orphans who are too young to survive on their own and are still in need of care from mom.

Upon arrival each raccoon is examined by our rehabilitators. Those in need of medical attention are also examined by our veterinary team and treated for injuries or illness. Once they are deemed healthy they join their siblings in the nursery.

There are two raccoon nurseries at PAWS and they are both in full swing for the majority of the spring and into the summer. The young raccoons stay in the nurseries for a few weeks before being moved to an outside enclosure where they spend the remainder of their time with us.

The PAWS team cares for them with daily cleanings, feedings and by providing enrichment to stimulate their senses and their minds.

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Raccoons remain with us through the summer and into the early fall when they are old enough for release. With collaboration and help from local agencies, suitable release sites are located.

These sites are especially chosen for raccoons, with a body of water nearby, plenty of space for them to roam and away from humans and other hazards like highways.

This year our first raccoon release took place at the end of September and by mid-October all 41 of our summer raccoon patients had been released back into the wild.

It is quite a sight watching these raccoons explore their new environment for the first time. Their heightened sense of touch allows them to experience the world a lot differently than many other mammalian species. This is very apparent as they leave the safety of their release carriers.

Raccoon Babies Feel World For First Time from PAWS on Vimeo.

They take their time and touch everything and some things they are touching for the very first time. After a while they make their way deeper into the safety of the forest and you can see the vegetation move from side to side as they navigate their way into their new surroundings.

Make a donation and help us continue providing a safe haven for recovering wildlife at PAWS.

Found a wild animal? Find out what to do and how PAWS can help.