336 posts categorized in "Wildlife"

By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

We are currently caring for more than 100 young birds at PAWS Wildlife Center, many of which start out in our Baby Bird Nursery. However, there are some birds who never stretch their wings in the nursery.

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Baby Barn Owls


Baby raptors who come to PAWS for care are treated differently from songbirds and other species. Because raptors are with their parents for a lot longer than songbirds and can be easily habituated to people when they are young, we try to reunite them with their parents when we can. Unfortunately, that is not always possible and in these cases they are raised at PAWS.

Like other wildlife we treat, we receive raptors at different stages of development. Some are hatchlings that are just a day or two old, while others are fledglings who left their nest too early and find themselves in harm’s way. Some youngsters get knocked out of their nest by their siblings or a predator, resulting in an injury.

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Baby Barred Owl


Currently we are caring for eight young raptors—four Barn Owls, three Barred Owls and a Peregrine Falcon. The youngsters are housed with others of their species if we have more than one. This is very important for their development, as they learn valuable behavioral and social skills from each other which helps them survive in the wild.

Our Peregrine Falcon patient is only scheduled for a short stay with us. He fledged a little too early and is not able to fly just yet. Once his primary feathers are long enough, he will be returned to his nest site to be reunited with his family with the help of the Falcon Research Group. He will then start learning to hunt with his siblings as his parents stay nearby providing food from time to time.

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Baby Peregrine Falcon


Our owl patients, however, will stay in our care until they are old enough to return to the wild. Until that time, they will spend their days taking short flights in their enclosures slowly learning to fly. Before they are deemed ready for release, we will ensure that they can catch live prey, which is the most important skill they need to survive on their own.

Once they are ready, they will be taken to a suitable habitat near where they were originally found because it will fulfill all of the requirements that will allow them to be successful in the wild.

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Barn Owl


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 spring turns into summer, things are really picking up at PAWS Wildlife Center. With over 200 patients currently being treated and over 140 released in May, our staff and volunteers are extremely busy preparing diets, cleaning and treating patients. This is the time of year when we start to get in more baby birds, specifically corvids; we currently have 10 youngsters.

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Corvidae is a family of larger passerines (songbirds) that includes crows, ravens, jays, nutcrackers, and magpies. The most common species in this family in the Seattle area are American Crows and Steller’s Jays.

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Corvids may seem like run-of-the-mill birds, but when it comes to intelligence they are at the top of their class. Corvids are considered to not only be the most intelligent birds but also some of the most intelligent animals in the world. They demonstrate self-awareness and tool making abilities, and crows can even recognize individual human faces. They have the ability to adapt quickly to changing circumstances, which has allowed them to successfully live among humans in more urban settings.

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A corvid species that we frequently receive at PAWS is the Steller’s Jay. Each year we care for a mix of adults and babies, and already this year we have received over 20.

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Named after naturalist Georg Steller, they are sometimes called Blue Jays, although they are quite different from their eastern cousins. They do indeed have a blue body, but their head is black with a triangular crest. They also do not have white markings on their wings and tail like Blue Jays have.

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Here is some more information about this common Western Washington corvid.

Species Info:

  • Wingspan is 17.3 inches and weight ranges from 3.5 to 4.9 ounces.
  • Nest in conifer trees.
  • Clutch size is two to six eggs.
  • Generalist foragers, eating insects, nuts, berries, eggs, small animals and nestlings.
  • Very social and vocal.
  • Frequently can be seen hopping around.

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Cool Facts:

  • Steller’s Jays use mud to build their nests.
  • They will rob other birds’ nests.
  • They are an excellent mimics; they can imitate the sounds of other birds, squirrels, cats, dogs, chickens and some mechanical objects.
  • The oldest recorded Steller’s Jay on record was at least 16 years old.

By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

During the first week of May, with the help of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) Karelian bear dog team and black bear biologists, we said goodbye to our nine American Black Bears who wintered over at PAWS Wildlife Center.

You may remember that we received nine bear cubs between August and January. All were from different areas in Washington but all were in the same predicament—orphaned and too young to survive on their own.

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It has been several years since we have had this many black bear cubs at one time at PAWS, and our rehabilitation staff worked hard all winter long, spending hours each day cleaning, feeding and preparing enrichment items for them.

As for the bears, they spent a lot of their winter sleeping together in a big black tub, play fighting, searching their enclosures for food and lounging on hammocks specially made by the Boy Scouts.

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On the morning of May 2, WDFW bear biologists and several of the Karelian Bear Dog officers arrived at PAWS to help us anesthetize the first group of bears for their pre-release exams, to take measurements, and to place them in the culvert traps they would be released from high up in the Cascades. Five bears were to be released on May 3 and the remaining four on May 4.

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On the morning of May 3, PAWS joined a caravan of four WDFW trucks to take the first five bears to their release site. We were also joined by three additional officers and their Karelian bear dogs.

In Washington, black bear releases are conducted using Karelian Bear Dogs who are specially trained to work with bears. They scare and chase the bears as they leave the trap. This is one more reminder that humans are bad and that they should stay away.

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These releases are also a useful training tool for newcomers to the Karelian bear dog team like Jax, who is just over a year old. Jax is normally stationed near Spokane but made the trip to western Washington with his officer to not only watch the adult dogs work but to join them. The May 4 release was the first release during which Jax was let off of his leash and able to run with the seasoned bear dogs. It was a special day for Officer Keith Kirsch, who has had Jax and has been training him since he was only a few months old.

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The bears were released one culvert trap at a time, and within 10 minutes they had all disappeared into the wilderness. Our job for the day, however, was not quite complete. We returned to PAWS to conduct pre-release exams on the remaining four bears and get them settled into culvert traps for their release the following morning.

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By 11 a.m. on May 4, all nine bears were back in the wild to once again be functioning members of the Washington black bear population.

This video was taken during the bear release. In it, you can hear the Karelian Bear Dogs in the background. If you can't see it here, you can watch it on YouTube.

 

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

The baby season has officially started at PAWS Wildlife Center. We have already received and released two Anna’s Hummingbird fledglings and we are currently caring for 40 Mallard ducklings, three raccoon kits, a killdeer chick and four hatchling Dark-eyed Juncos, just to name a few.

Killdeer chick
Killdeer chick


Baby season, which typically lasts from March through August, is the busiest time at PAWS. During this time we care for over 3,000 orphaned and injured wild animals, 2,000 of which are babies; our rehabilitator staff doubles, with seasonal rehabbers joining the team; the number of volunteers doubles; we have visiting veterinarian students; and our 12 or so interns will be starting soon.

Baby season kicked off this year on March 16 with the arrival of a five-pound baby black bear. She was kidnapped from her den and although state wildlife officers attempted to reunite her with her mother it was too late; the mother had moved on after being disturbed at her den site.

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Two baby Anna's Hummingbirds being fed at PAWS Wildlife Center


This is the tenth bear in our care and she is secluded from the other nine who are roughly 10 times her size. Currently she is about the size of a toddler, has brown fur and a prominent white blaze on her chest that looks something like a bib.

Despite being on her own, she keeps herself quite busy exploring her enclosure to find treasures the rehabilitation team has hidden for her. These can be anything from stuffed toys hiding in a pine tree to a bowling ball in her “dogloo.” Recently she even had a hula hoop hanging from the ceiling, which she spent time twirling around with her feet and biting. All of these items serve as enrichment to keep her mind stimulated, and even though she doesn’t know it, they also call upon her natural instincts to act like a bear.

American Black Bear playing with enrichment items at PAWS Wildlife Center
A baby American Black Bear plays with enrichment items in her enclosure at PAWS Wildlife Center.


This little bear will be spending more than a year with us. Hopefully she will soon have a companion that is closer in size, but until then the stuffed toys are a good substitute.

 

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

Spring is breeding season for most wildlife species that live in Washington, and this is not lost on Bald Eagles. The beginning of April is when the first eaglets hatch in Western Washington.

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Adults start competing for territory and building nests during the winter. This is a crucial time for individuals, as they need to be healthy and strong to defend their territory against other eagles. Unfortunately for some, these territory disputes don’t end happily.

Currently we are treating an adult male Bald Eagle at PAWS Wildlife Center who was brought to us in early March. He is suffering from a large soft tissue wound just above his bill that is very deep and thought to have been the result of a territorial dispute he did not win. For several days he was seen on a beach unable to fly very well before being caught and brought to PAWS for medical treatment. He is currently being housed in our large flight pen to build his wing strength back up, undergoing rounds of weekly wound management, and is on antibiotics to ward off infection.

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We are also currently treating a second Bald Eagle who may have been hit by a vehicle, resulting in a broken right wing. He too is going through weekly rounds of wound management and on antibiotics.

As our two eagle patients regain their strength and continue to heal let me introduce you to the Bald Eagle.

Species Info:

  • Large raptor with a heavy body, large head and long hooked bill.
  • Immature Bald Eagles are all brown and their heads and tails are not completely white until they are 4 to 6 years old.

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  • Wingspan is 6.6 feet and weighs 6.5 to 13 pounds.
  • Nests in trees and on cliff sides.
  • Clutch size is one to three eggs.
  • Carnivorous bird eating fish, birds, reptiles, invertebrates and carrion.
  • Powerful flier, soaring, gliding, and flapping over long distances.
  • Typically solitary but will congregate by the hundreds at communal roosts and feeding sites.

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Cool Facts:

  • Rather than hunting their own fish, Bald Eagles will often harass ospreys until they drop their prey.
  • The largest Bald Eagle nest was almost 9 feet in diameter and 18 feet tall.
  • Immature Bald Eagles spend their first four years exploring vast territories and can fly hundreds of miles per day.
  • Bald Eagles are known to play with inanimate objects such as plastic bottles and sticks. One observer watched as six Bald Eagles passed sticks to each other in midair.
  • The oldest recorded Bald Eagle on record was at least 38 years old.

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By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

Spring is in the air, and you know what that means: Birds are passing through the Seattle area or coming back to their summer breeding grounds here. You may have noticed a lot more singing during the wee hours of the morning.

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Black-headed Grosbeak

 
Some spring migrants have already arrived and are establishing territories and building nests, while others are still on their way. Of the 160 or so breeding birds in the Seattle area, about 50 of those are only here during the spring and summer. Some of the songbird species include the Wilson’s Warbler, Western Tanager, Black-headed Grosbeak, Lincoln’s Sparrow and Yellow-rumped Warbler, just to name a few. However, there are also migratory shorebirds, waterfowl and raptors in our area as well.

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An Osprey being released after rehabilitation at PAWS Wildlife Center.

 
Migratory species are built to be long-distance fliers, with longer wings and bigger breast muscles than their non-migratory kin. They have a very complex and efficient respiratory system that allows them to fly at high altitudes and for long distances.

Bird species use a combination of navigational skills to move from their wintering grounds to their summer grounds. Although it is still somewhat of a mystery how exactly they do it, we do know that migratory birds use many different senses when they migrate. They use the sun, stars, the Earth’s magnetic field, and landmarks seen during the day to maneuver their way over distances that could be thousands of miles.

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Western Tanager

 
You may be among the lucky ones to see some of these spectacular migrants in your backyard habitat or in nearby parks. If not, there are ways to naturally attract birds and other wildlife so you can enjoy them throughout the spring and summer. You could even go as far as taking steps towards having your backyard certified as a wildlife sanctuary.

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Yellow-rumped Warbler

 
We have only received a few spring migrants so far this spring season at PAWS Wildlife Center. Currently we are treating a baby Band-tailed Pigeon. Although you may occasionally see a few Band-tailed Pigeons in our area in the winter, they are still considered spring migrants. They typically start leaving their summer breeding grounds in late August and return as early as the end of February. This is, of course, dependent on weather and food availability.

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This baby Band-tailed Pigeon is one of our first migratory bird patients of the year.

 
We expect to receive more migrant birds and other wildlife patients as baby season and spring start to pick up. If you find a baby bird or baby mammal that appears to be injured or orphaned, follow our simple guides linked above to learn what to do. If in doubt, call the PAWS Wildlife Center at (425) 412-4040 and one of our experts can assist you.

By JaneA Kelley, PAWS Staff

Do you want to spend your Friday or Saturday evenings volunteering with animals?

Wait, before you click away, let us tell you a bit about the importance of volunteers—who we rely on seven days a week, 365 days a year—and share with you some stories of PAWS volunteers who take those weekend night shifts.

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Photo by Benjamin Fry

Last year at PAWS, more than 8,200 cats, dogs and wild animals were brought to us in need of help. We couldn’t have assisted these animals in finding homes or returning to the wild without the help of our volunteers.

More than 800 volunteers contributed a staggering 63,176 hours (the equivalent of 7.2 years!) to helping us in 2015.

You might be surprised to know that even with all this volunteer support, we still need more. This is particularly true for our weekend shifts. While walking dogs and tending to wildlife might not seem like the perfect way to start the weekend, Tom, who has been serving as a Friday-night dog walker for a year now, would like to tell you otherwise.

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“I really do enjoy the shift and find it a convenient, satisfying way to cap off the traditional work week,” Tom says. “I like to think of the Friday shift as ‘PAWS Happy Hour’ since not only does it coincide with human Happy Hour, it's busy and fun and the doggies are very happy to have their dinner and go for an evening stroll in the woods.”

If you’d like to spend your happy hour with our companion animals  we desperately need more Friday night dog walkers, and also kennel attendants, who deal with every aspect of a dog’s life at PAWS. Which is one of the really rewarding aspects of volunteering out of hours. It’s just you and them, and you’re making a very real impact on a dog’s life. That can be a special experience.

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Helping dogs on the night shift still leaves plenty of time to connect with friends and family. Most volunteers at our shelter leave by 6 or 7 p.m. “That’s still pretty early in the scheme of a weekend,” Tom says, “so people have plenty of time to head out for a movie or dinner.”

If you’re more interested in taking a weekend walk on the wild side, we are always looking for more volunteer wildlife care assistants to fill Friday and Saturday night shifts during our busy season (6:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m., April through September). Crucial to maintaining continuity of care for our patients, wildlife care assistants get involved with feeding and final checks on patients.

Randi has been volunteering with PAWS for more than 12 years and always takes an evening shift at our wildlife center in the summer. “I like the late shift because there’s a smaller team and you get to interact more closely with your shift mates and the rehabbers,” she says, adding that even though there’s a lot to do, it’s a great shift because time moves quickly when you’re busy and enjoying your fellow volunteers’ company.

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Jennifer, another volunteer at our wildlife center, says that the evening shift allows her to fit her volunteer interests into her regular work schedule. “For me the volunteer tasks are a welcome break from my regular desk job and I am given the opportunity to learn and experience things I would not in my day to day life,” she says. “There is a good energy to the evening shift despite how busy it often is, the feel is very laid back; you are winding the shelter down for the night and preparing for the next morning.”

Why not join “PAWS Happy Hour” and volunteer with us on a Friday or Saturday night? By the time you are finished with your shift, there will still be plenty of time to enjoy a night out with friends or spend a relaxing evening at home. And, as Tom says, “It sends you off into the weekend feeling good.”

Are you interested in volunteering with PAWS? Learn how to get started.

By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

The Puget Sound region is home to a wide array of wildlife species, many of whom make their homes in the forests and single trees in our region. Trees and forests provide critical habitat, cover and nesting sites to many wild species including cavity nesting owls, woodpeckers, native squirrels and bats; not to mention the multitude of birds whose amazing nests grace thick limbs and tiny branches alike.

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An Anna's Hummingbird sits in a nest


February through September are the most active nesting months for Washington wildlife, trees will be teeming with life. Please be aware that pruning or cutting down trees during this time can and does displace, harm, and even kill a variety of wildlife species. PAWS Wildlife Center receives hundreds of baby wild animals each year, many of which are displaced when their nest tree was cut down or their nest site was destroyed.

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Black-capped Chickadees nesting


Before cutting down any tree, whether it is alive or dead, please consider taking the following steps to prevent unnecessary loss of life or habitat:

  • Plan tree-cutting projects from November through January, which is well after nesting season.
  • Inspect the tree for active nests before beginning work on the tree.
  • Consider cutting just the bare minimum of branches, leaving the nest section alone.
  • Standing dead trees (snags) are great wildlife habitats, often housing several different species. Please consider leaving snags standing. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife encourages the public to save their snags as wildlife habitat. You can even purchase a sign from them to display on your snag to help educate your community.
  • If the tree does not present a hazard, the best course of action may be to leave it alone, as all trees provide some form of habitat for wild creatures.
  • Many wildlife species are federally protected and the law prohibits destroying and/or disturbing their nests.
  • If a nest-bearing tree absolutely must be cut down, first call PAWS at 425.412.4040 to find out what steps to take.
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A Northern Flicker feeds her young


The staff at PAWS Wildlife Center would like to thank you for helping to preserve our wildlife and their habitats. Please do not hesitate to call us if you have any questions.

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A Bushtit builds a nest

By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

You may have noticed a lot more birds singing outside your windows. Spring is on its way, and many song bird species are starting to establish territories and get ready for the breeding season.

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One of the little birds you may see and will definitely hear is the Pacific Wren. We are currently treating one at PAWS Wildlife Center who was the victim of a cat attack. Currently he is unable to fly, has a right wing droop and swelling and bruising on his right wing. He is currently under cage rest and being treated with antibiotics.

Hopefully his injuries heal and he will be able to be released back into the wild to sing with the rest of his kind.

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But until then, let me introduce you to the Pacific Wren:

Species Info:

  • Small song bird with a short, stubby tail and short, slender bill
  • Wingspan is 4.7 to 6.3 inches and weigh 8 to 12 grams
  • Prefers dense coniferous forests
  • Nests in tree cavities, root bases and on branches less than six feet above the ground
  • Nest is made of moss, weeds, grass, animal hair and feathers
  • Clutch size is 4 to 7 eggs that are white with reddish brown dots
  • Young leave the nest about 17 days after hatching
  • Insectivore eating insects, insect larvae, millipedes, spiders and others
  • Feeds on the ground, in low shrubs, near the bases of trees, and around fallen dead wood

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Cool Facts:

  • Sometimes roost communally in cold weather. In one case, 31 individuals were found together in a nest box in Western Washington.
  • One of the only North American wrens associated with old-growth forests.
  • Was once considered the same species as the Winter Wren but was split into a separate species in 2010 after research showed they do not interbreed.

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By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

You may or not be aware that there are four species of hummingbird found in Washington in the summer: Rufous, Calliope, Anna’s and the occasional Black-chinned. In the winter it’s a different story: Although most of the hummingbirds in North America migrate to a warmer climate in the winter, we have a year-round hummingbird resident right here in Washington.

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The Anna’s Hummingbird is the only hummingbird in Washington that not only breeds here but also spends its entire winter with us. However, this was not always the case. Anna’s Hummingbirds once bred only in Baja and in Southern California. Due to the planting of exotic flowering trees, their exploitation of hummingbird feeders and their ability to withstand low temperatures, they have expanded their breeding range and now also winter as far north as Juneau, Alaska. They are now the most common hummingbird along the Pacific Coast and frequent patients at PAWS Wildlife Center.

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Anna’s Hummingbirds are medium-sized stocky hummingbirds that are mostly green and gray. The male’s head and throat are also covered in iridescent reddish-pink feathers. They have a wing span of 4.7 inches and weigh between three and six grams. They are extremely territorial and will fight off other hummingbirds that come too close. They build nests made of plant down and spider webs and lay two eggs between January and April. They feed on nectar from flowering plants, but their ability to exploit both nectar and insects is the reason they are able to breed earlier in the year than other hummingbirds.

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You may be wondering how such a small bird is able to survive the bitter cold days and nights of Washington winters, particularly since the Ana’s Hummingbird’s normal body temperature is 107 degrees. On very cold nights, hummingbirds have the ability to go into a shortened state of inactivity called torpor. During this time they reduce their body temperature and metabolic rate to conserve energy—they have the ability to reduce their body temperature to 48 degrees. When the outside temperature warms up again they become active within a few minutes.

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During the winter, when we receive Anna’s Hummingbirds at PAWS Wildlife Center, much of the time it is because they were coming out of torpor when someone found them. In this state they are not able to fly away like they normally do.

We received a patient on January 31 for this reason. He was found sitting on a trash can unable to fly. The finder brought him to us in fear that he was injured or sick. After a few minutes sitting on a heating pad and a few sips of special hummingbird nectar, he was revived and flying around our exam room beautifully. Because he was not injured, he was returned promptly to his territory later that afternoon.

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