349 posts categorized in "Wildlife"

By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

Biologist and theorist E.O. Wilson once said “Biological diversity is the key to the maintenance of the world as we know it...Eliminate one species, and another increases to take its place. Eliminate a great many species and the local ecosystem starts to decay.”

In the coming week, PAWS is celebrating the National Wildlife Federation’s National Wildlife Week. This educational program is used to get the word out about all the wild animals, big and small, who live together.

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Biodiversity is defined as the variety of life in the world or in a habitat or ecosystem. It is important because it boosts ecosystem productivity where each species plays an important role. Greater species diversity ensures natural sustainability for all life forms, including us.

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Right here in Washington there are hundreds of native wildlife species that we coexist with. From the seabirds wintering off our coast to the songbirds at our bird feeders to the ever-elusive coyote. These species all play an important role in the environment that they live in.  Seabirds are indicators of the health of the marine environment.  They will be the first to be affected if something is wrong because they spend most of their life at sea and rely on marine resources for food. Songbirds protect trees and other plants by preying on insects that chew leaves and harm forests. Coyotes are a keystone predator that have positive effects within an ecosystem by keeping natural areas healthy. They regulate populations of smaller predators in turn allowing the prey of smaller predators, like birds, to survive. 

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In a changing world, it is important for us humans to better understand and celebrate this biodiversity.  We can even help promote it in our own backyards and communities by planting wildlife gardens and taking injured and orphaned wild animals to wildlife rehabilitation centers like PAWS for help.

In the past five years PAWS, has returned more than 5,800 animals back to the wild encompassing more than 165 different species. We returned these animals back to the wild so they can once again be active members within their population to help preserve the biodiversity in Washington. 

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Help us celebrate by checking back each day this week on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages for patient updates, inside looks and information about species we are currently treating at PAWS. 

Happy National Wildlife Week!!

Inspired by our work? Consider making a donation today to help us continue providing vital care to wild animals in need.

Found a wild animal in need? Find out how PAWS can help

Interested in a career in wildlife rehabilitation? Check out internship/externship opportunities at PAWS

By Ashley Welch, Wildlife Admissions Specialist

Join PAWS Wildlife Center in planting a native species garden this spring and summer!

Why are native species gardens important?

Local wildlife is facing habitat loss and fragmentation in King and Snohomish counties. Providing natural food and habitat sources using native plants will not only give you a front row seat to view our spectacular wildlife, but also support our local wild animals.

Hummingbird

Decide which species you want to attract to your garden.

Native species gardens can attract and support a wide variety of animals from small mammals, such as Douglas Squirrels or Little Brown Bats, to birds including Anna’s Hummingbirds, Black-capped Chickadees and Dark-eyed Juncos.

Bee montage

You will also likely be supporting invertebrates such as butterflies and bees, which are important pollinators! Check out the Xerces Society website to learn how to support bees locally and the North American Butterfly Association website to learn how to support butterflies in your home garden. You may even be able to apply to become a Certified Butterfly Garden.

In addition to providing native plants, you can also provide artificial homes for wildlife. There are many resources available to show you how to build homes for bats, bees, and birds.

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(Left to Right) Bird Nest Box, Tree Squirrel Nest Box, and Bee Nest Box.

Gardening Tips

  • When building a native species garden, try to use natural methods for controlling pests – using pesticides can actually harm our native wildlife.
  • Add a water source to attract native wildlife, but make sure to keep it clean!
  • Work with knowledgeable staff at a local nursery specializing in native plant species
  • Be careful when providing bird feeders, they may do more harm than good to our local wildlife.
  • If your garden will include vegetables or fruit, prepare to either share your garden with local wildlife or find humane solutions to deter them from entering your garden.

If you are having difficulty finding resources that apply to your situation, please call PAWS Wildlife Center at 425-412-4040 for assistance. Keep in mind it is not always possible to keep out all of the local wildlife, but there are natural ways to minimize attractions.

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An easy way to keep out visitors from vegetable garden is using wire fencing and netting.

Local Resources

Once you build your native species garden, sign up for the PAWS Shared Spaces Program to provide a starter home for newly released wild animals rehabilitated at PAWS Wildlife Center!

Inspired by our work? Consider making a donation today to help us continue providing vital care to wild animals in need.

Found a wild animal in need? Find out how PAWS can help

Interested in a career in wildlife rehabilitation? Check out internship/externship opportunities at PAWS

By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

Update on February 21, 2017: 16 gulls who were affected by the Tacoma die off event at the end of January were released back into the wild last week thanks to help from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife and the Port of Tacoma.

We are still treating 17 of the Glaucous-winged Gulls from the Tacoma die off event. They are all regaining strength and have moved to outside enclosures.


We often see gulls flying in the sky in the Seattle, taking strolls along the beach, loafing in parking lots, and floating in the waves of Puget Sound. But have you ever wondered more about them? Gulls are one of nature’s boldest birds and there are 22 species that call North America home.

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Although there are so many different species they are often lumped together and referred to as “seagulls” but this is a misnomer and an inaccurate depiction of where gulls actually live. They don’t actually go out to sea but stick to more coastal areas in lakes, rivers, marshes and cities.

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The gull species we are currently treating at PAWS are Glaucous-winged Gulls and Glaucous-winged Gull hybrids. Yes, hybrids. Gulls species sometimes mate with gulls of other species producing hybrids. In our area Glaucous-winged Gulls (below left) mate with Western Gulls (below right) as their breeding grounds overlap; these gulls are often called Olympic or Puget Sound Gulls (below center). Hybrid gulls will have characteristics of both species and can sometimes be hard to identify.

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Glaucous-winged gulls are a large gull with a white head and underparts. Their back if silvery gray and their wingtips are medium gray with white spots near the tip. They also have pinkish legs and adults have a yellow bill with a red spot towards the tip. Their wingspan is four to four and a half feet wide and they weigh approximately two and a half pounds. When they are young chicks they are a sandy color with brown spots to blend in with their surroundings.

Glaucous-winged Gulls are colonial nesters who make their nests in large groups on coastal cliffs, rocky islands and sometimes on flat roofs. They forage on fish and marine invertebrates and scavenge on carrion (dead animals). They capture food near the surface of the water or on shore and often steal food from other seabirds. They are opportunistic foragers and will eat whatever food is available which is why they do so well in more urban environments.

The oldest recorded Glaucous-winged Gull was at least 23 years old. It was banded in British Columbia in Washington in 2001.

Inspired by our work? Consider making a donation today to help us continue providing vital care to wild animals in need.

Found a wild animal in need? Find out how PAWS can help

Interested in a career in wildlife rehabilitation? Check out internship/externship opportunities at PAWS

By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

2016 was another busy year at PAWS Wildlife Center.  We treated more than 4,500 patients (some pictured below); 250 more patients than in 2015.

Some were patients we don’t see very often at the Wildlife Center including a Great Egret, a Guadalupe Fur Seal, a Virginia Rail and a Warbling Vireo. And others were common species including eight Bobcats, over 1,100 baby birds, 20 Cooper’s Hawks, and over 150 Dark-eyed Juncos. 

A special thank you to over 300 volunteers who donated thousands of hours of their time in 2016 feeding, transporting, caring for and cleaning up after our patients to ensure they have a healthy environment in which to grow and heal.  

We also want to thank people like you for your continued support so far 2017 is stacking up to be another busy year and we could not do it without you!

2016 collage

Inspired by our work? Consider making a donation today to help us continue providing vital care to wild animals in need.

Found a wild animal in need? Find out how PAWS can help

Interested in a career in wildlife rehabilitation? Check out internship/externship opportunities at PAWS

By Kendall Graham

The holiday season represents a time of plenty for many families; big dinners, holiday pastries, warm drinks and spending time with loved ones. In the animal kingdom, this season represents quite the opposite.

Some animals migrate to more prosperous climates, while others bundle up and wait for spring. The wildlife who are determined to stay through the cold use various techniques to combat the harsh elements, one of which is torpor. Some of our biggest and smallest patients in our wildlife hospital utilize torpor to survive through the harder times.

Torpor can be related to “sleep mode” on a computer. It is an energy saving state initiated by lowering the metabolism. Many smaller species will enter a state of torpor daily, for example hummingbirds. Hummingbirds naturally have a high metabolism and body temperature, therefore they expend lots of energy during the day. At night while resting, hummingbirds go into torpor to conserve energy.

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As with all torpid states, metabolism slows along with a reduction in breathing rate, heart rate, blood flow and body temperature. A body in torpor could even reach ambient temperature, which in the winter time can be near freezing. Despite these extreme changes, the small hummingbird is still able to wake itself in the morning to begin its day.

If prolonged or extended, the state of torpor is called hibernation. This term usually conjures images of large bears sleeping through subzero temperatures in a warm cave. In actuality, hibernation is not as continuous or even necessary for bears as once believed.

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Misconceptions relate torpor and hibernation events to a drop in temperature, but even animals in temperate and tropical climates will hibernate. The true cause for animals to go into a torpor or hibernation is the decrease in food availability.

Bears in zoos, and even some of our bear patients here at PAWS, will not hibernate because food is provided year round. To prompt a bear in captivity to hibernate, caretakers must slowly diminish their meals.

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Even the length of hibernation can change, as the animal will only halt its bouts of hibernation when there is food to sustain its survival. Bears in Alaska, who are exposed to harsher, longer winters, will hibernate for longer periods of time than bears in Washington, who experience much milder conditions. Instead of expending energy to find the scarce amount of food in the winter seasons, bears wait for food to regrow and return.

While wildlife is experiencing a torpid state, they are extremely vulnerable and unable to respond to their surroundings. If you do find any wildlife who is unresponsive or gives you cause for concern about its well-being, please call our wildlife hospital at 425.412.4040. Our expert staff will be able to advise you on how to provide the best help for the animal.

Inspired by our work? Consider making a donation today to help us continue providing vital care to wild animals in need.

Found a wild animal in need? Find out how PAWS can help.

Interested in a career in wildlife rehabilitation? Check out internship/externship opportunities at PAWS.

By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

In honor of our current patient of the week and the large number of herons that were recently spotted in Edmonds our species spotlight this week focuses on Great Blue Herons.

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The Great Blue Herons is the largest heron in North America with a wingspan of 5.5 to 6.5 feet, height around 4 feet and weigh roughly five pounds. They are year-round residents of Washington and can most frequently be seen anywhere there is a wetland.

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They are known for their patience; you will often see them standing very still staring into the water for long periods of time. This is how they hunt; they stand very still or move very slowly waiting for prey to swim or fly by.  They are carnivorous and mainly eat fish, amphibians, reptiles, small mammals, insects and sometimes even other birds.   

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Great Blue Herons are solitary except during the breeding season when they typically nest in rookeries with other herons. One of these rookeries you can see in the spring and summer at the Marymoor Park.

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Inspired by our work? Consider making a donation today to help us continue providing vital care to wild animals in need.

Found a wild animal in need? Find out how PAWS can help.

Interested in a career in wildlife rehabilitation? Check out internship/externship opportunities at PAWS.

 

By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

Tis the season of giving, and we’re eternally grateful for all of the donations we receive throughout the year. We truly couldn’t do what we do without help from people like you.

Whether it’s their dollars, time or supplies people gift us, every little bit helps. If you’re wondering how you can help us directly care for our animals, we have a wish list of items we use day to day that help us comfort and care for our wild patients  as well as our companion animals.

There are some specific items that could help our wildlife hospital staff enrich, feed, medicate and house our patients.

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Artificial plants are something we often use in our enclosures, especially in our aviaries. It’s important to make these spaces feel like the outdoors even though the patient may be indoors.  In order to make that happen, we use a mix of real and artificial plants. In our Hummingbird aviary, we even place syringes of food inside the artificial flowers to simulate feeding from a real flower. Fake plants also make great perches and cover for birds.

Garden hose reels are another important item we need at the center. As you can imagine, with all of the aquatic species we treat and the daily cleanings these patients require, we have a lot of hoses. The garden hose reels help us keep the hoses organized and off of the ground so that they last longer.

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Quick-read digital thermometers are another much-used and much-needed item, and something we use daily. Whether they’ve just been admitted or are in surgery, it’s important to monitor a patients’ temperatures as it aides us in properly treating them.

We create specific diets for specific patients to help aid them in recovery and regain their strength. Items we need include Skippy Natural Creamy Peanut Butter, Nature Made Folic Acid 400 mcg tablets, corn meal, wheat bran, oat bran, thistle seed and dried egg whites. We’re also in need of fresh produce for our over wintering raccoons and other species, including apples, carrots, potatoes, broccoli, pears, zucchini, beets, spinach, cauliflower, squash, melons, pumpkin and peppers.

Dark Eyed Junco

Please drop off your donations during PAWS’ regular business hours which you can find hereWe know our wildlife patients are grateful for your support, and we value you for helping us do what we do best- care for our wildlife patients in need.

Inspired by our work? Consider making a donation today to help us continue providing vital care to wild animals in need.

Found a wild animal in need? Find out how PAWS can help.

Interested in a career in wildlife rehabilitation? Check out internship/externship opportunities at PAWS.


By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

October 26 was a special day for our wildlife staff as two healthy, sub-adult Bald Eagles were released back into the wild together after several weeks of rehabilitation and care at PAWS.

This is the first time since 2009 that we’ve released more than one eagle at a time in the same location. It’s also been a record-breaking year for Bald Eagle patients, with 16 admitted to our wildlife hospital.

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Both of these eagles came to PAWS too young to survive on their own, and barely old enough to fly. One was brought to us by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in August. He was found on Mission Beach unable to fly, covered with feather lice, and unable to move at all upon capture.

It seemed that this eagle was still very young and may have ended up on the ground after his initial flight out of the nest, but with no parents in sight he would not have made it on his own.

During his first couple of weeks in care, he spent a lot of time on the ground in his enclosure acting like a baby eagle. But before long he was up on high perches trying to fly. In mid-September, he was moved into our large flight pen with an adult eagle who was awaiting release, and faired very well in the pen while he gained strength.

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The second eagle was transferred to us in late August from a veterinary center in Clinton, WA. He was brought to the vet clinic by animal control after being witnessed sitting on a beach for several days, unable to fly.

Upon his arrival at PAWS, he was found to have some minor feather damage and carpal (wrist) wounds. These carpal wounds would need to start healing before he could be released back to the wild, as they could inhibit his flight. They got worse before they got better, and he went through several bouts of veterinary exams, suturing and intensive care before he was ready to go.

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While in care, he wore specialized bumpers on his wounds to protect them from getting bumped in the enclosure. There was risk that the wounds would reopen and we would have to start the whole process over again, delaying his release. These bumpers were so important to his recovery that he wore them until a few minutes before his release.

PAWS staff were on hand to watch them both fly free once more, released along the Skagit River where salmon are plentiful this time of year.

Can't see the video? Watch it on our YouTube channel instead.

Inspired by our work? Consider making a donation today to help us continue providing vital care to wild animals in need.

Found a wild animal in need? Find out how PAWS can help.

Interested in a career in wildlife rehabilitation? Check out internship/externship opportunities at PAWS.


By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

As the days become shorter and the nights become colder, many wildlife species in our area are preparing for winter. For some, that means getting out of town and migrating south, some are getting ready to hibernate, and others are just preparing for the cold and rainy weather ahead.

One of these species is the Raccoon. Although Raccoons do not hibernate, they are less active during extremely cold periods. This time of year they are out and about preparing for the winter, taking advantage of food resources currently available before they become less plentiful.

Raccoons1_101316Raccoon patients in their enclosure at PAWS wildlife hospital

Young of the year are still with mom learning valuable survival skills that will help get them through this winter and others to come.

For those Raccoons who live in a more natural environment, that means learning to forage, evade predators and find suitable dens for sleep during the day.

For urban Raccoons, this may mean learning how to safely navigate our streets and exploit resources that we leave behind.

Raccoons3_101316A Raccoon in their natural environment, where foraging and evading predators is key

Because Raccoons are opportunistic omnivores they can, and will, eat pretty much anything. In urban environments their natural food sources are scarce or not available at all, so they have learned to live off of our trash, pet food, scraps and vegetable gardens.

Raccoons2_101316A Raccoon patient at PAWS enjoys a watermelon

They may even seek shelter under porches, in crawl spaces, or in attics. This can cause negative interactions with us and our pets. If you find signs of Raccoons raiding your garden or living under your porch and would like them to move on, there are a few things you can do:

  • NEVER intentionally feed raccoons. They are very capable of finding their own food and do not need handouts. In fact, this is a good rule to follow for all wildlife. If raccoons are getting into your garbage, secure trash can lids with rope, chain, bungee cords or weights, or purchase cans that have clamps or other mechanisms to hold lids down. 
  • Do not feed your pets outdoors and be sure to shut pet doors that lead into your home at night. Raccoons have been known to enter people’s homes through dog doors in search of food. If you have to feed domestic animals outside, be sure to pick up all food and water bowls (including leftovers) each night. Also secure any compost containers.
  • If you enjoy dining al fresco, be sure to clean up BBQ areas. 
  • If you have a Raccoon living in your attic, chimney or under the house you can prevent them accessing these areas by altering the structure slightly. Using metal or plastic spikes and aluminum flashing will prevent them from crawling up the sides of your house.
  • To prevent Raccoons from getting into your garden try using bright lights, especially those activated by motion, or by creating noise disturbances when the raccoons are present. Building a perimeter fence may also deter them. 

The main thing to remember is the Raccoon is just trying to do what it can to survive on the limited resources it can find. They do not want to cause any harm, and avoid conflict when they can.

Inspired by our work? Consider making a donation today to help us continue providing vital care to wild animals in need.

Found a wild animal in need? Find out how PAWS can help.

Interested in a career in wildlife rehabilitation? Check out internship/externship opportunities at PAWS.


By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

There are seven species of squirrels that inhabit Washington and PAWS is no stranger to caring for some of these species. We receive hundreds of squirrels every year.

Currently we're caring for more than 75 young squirrels. They begin their care in our small mammal nursery where they are fed by our volunteers. Each squirrel in the nursery has to be fed three to five times a day depending on how old he is. Multiply that by 75 and that calculates to over 225 feedings a day!

Each feeding can take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes per squirrel depending on how well they drink from the syringe. During the busiest part of baby squirrel season at PAWS, when we are at squirrel capacity, that equates to over 75 hours of volunteer time, on average, per day. Thanks to our stellar volunteers we are able to feed more than one squirrel at once.

Squirrel_feeding_blog_083116A volunteer syringe-feeds a baby squirrel

Some very special squirrel patients we receive almost every year are Northern Flying Squirrels. Typically we receive youngsters who have fallen from their nest cavity at night and are discovered on the ground the next morning.

They are very tricky eaters and are fed by staff only at first until they get the hang of the syringes. They are small, soft, have large eyes and are a favorite among our volunteers. We only receive two to five each year but they leave a lasting impression.

NFSQ_blog_083116Northern Flying Squirrel patients at PAWS

Here's some information about these inhabitants of the night sky:

They're between 10 and 12 inches long
- They are most active at night
- They have a membrane that connects their front and back legs called a patagium, which allows them to glide (not fly) between trees
- They are omnivores and eat foods including seeds, nuts, fungi, fruit and insects
- They prefer coniferous and mixed coniferous forests
- They are superb gliders making them escape artists from predators
- Their biggest predator is owls, specifically Spotted Owls
- They can live up to five years in the wild
- Their offspring rely on the female for care for two months

And perhaps the most impressive fact of all... they can glide 80 to 150 feet at once!

Inspired by our work? Consider making a donation today to help us continue providing vital care to wild animals in need.

Found a wild animal in need? Find out how PAWS can help.

Interested in a career in wildlife rehabilitation? Check out internship/externship opportunities at PAWS.