288 posts categorized in "Wildlife"


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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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.


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 Find out what to do and how PAWS can help.
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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 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.


By Jen Mannas, Naturalist

Every evening in a small neighborhood in Clinton, Washington a pair of Great Horned Owls can be heard amongst the trees calling to each other. One evening recently, the male decided to pick a very unfortunate spot to eat his freshly caught mouse.

He landed on a transformer on top of a power pole. This caught the eye of a resident on her nightly walk. She watched the owl peck at his meal when suddenly there was a loud bang and a flash of light. The next thing she saw was the owl falling to the ground.

She rushed over to see if he was still alive and found him sitting upright and very stunned. Concerned that he had some serious injuries she scooped him up in a towel and brought him to PAWS the next morning.

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When the owl arrived at our Wildlife Hospital he didn’t have any obvious injuries but he was pale and dehydrated.

After the veterinarian team examined him they found that he had some bruising on his feet and possibly a detached retina. He was considered very lucky since there was no sign of an entry or exit point for the electrical charge he endured.

However, the main concern with this patient was how damaged his retina actually was and if he would be able to see well enough to hunt again. 

Eyesight as well as hearing are very important for owl survival. They must be able to hone in on their prey while hunting and accurately judge distance for striking.

Great Horned Owls primarily hunt from a perch at night and rely heavily on their eye sight to do so. They have extremely big eyes, even for an owl. Their pupils open widely and their retinas are predominately made of rods which help their eyes function effectively in low light.

The maximum effective hunting distance of a Great Horned Owl from an elevated perch is 300 feet. Pretty impressive don’t you think?

Luckily for this owl his eye injury was not serious. In just under 2 weeks he demonstrated to us that he was able to catch live prey, fly quietly and accurately, and was deemed ready for release.

We rode the evening ferry to Whidbey Island and returned him to the neighborhood he came from. Residents watched in excitement as he flew from his carrier and landed in a nearby tree where he called for his mate.

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.

Worried about power lines putting birds in your area at risk? Read about the Snohomish County Avian Protection Program.


By Jen Mannas, Naturalist

It’s that time of year again here in Seattle. The leaves are changing, there's a chill in the air, it’s getting dark earlier each day and the skies are full of birds heading to their wintering grounds.

This spectacular event is known as the fall migration. As the summer breeding season ends and the temperature drops birds begin their journey to warmer areas with more abundant food.

Washington State is part of the Pacific Flyway, which is one of the four major flyways in North America. The Pacific Flyway stretches over 4,000 miles south from the North Slope of Alaska to Western Mexico and over 1,000 miles between the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

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Birds use this flyway as a super highway to their wintering grounds and have been doing so for thousands of years. It's estimated that at least one billion birds use the Pacific Flyway each fall comprising of over 350 different species.

During this migration hundreds of thousands of birds fly through the Seattle area on their way south. Many use this area as a stopover and will leave again when the weather gets colder.

However not all migratory birds go south for the winter.

Many species of seabirds and shorebirds breed in inland areas and will actually travel west to the coast to spend their winters.

Other species such as owls, who spend their summers up in the mountains, come down to lower altitudes during the winter where there is more food.

Pictured: Green Herons (top L) and Barn Swallows (top R) migrate south while Horned Grebes (bottom L) and Greater Yellowlegs (bottom R) migrate to Puget Sound from the interior of Washington.

Here at PAWS Wildlife Center we receive many of these migratory birds throughout the year. Some of them come in as orphaned baby birds in the spring and others as full grown adults who are sick or injured.

As with all of our patients, PAWS staff and volunteers try to treat and return these migratory birds back to the wild quickly. Releasing them before their natural migration ends is extremely important so they may join others of their kind on this great journey.

Join us on the frontline of wildlife care and rehabilitation - volunteer at PAWS.

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

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