By Katherine Spink, PAWS Staff

In September 2012, Camille decided she was finally ready for the responsibility of a four-legged companion and began what she expected to be a lengthy search for the perfect partner. Little did she know she was only a shelter away from her happy union with a feline friend.

Three years on, Camille looks back on life with Harper (now Scout)...

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What made you decide to adopt from a shelter?
I didn't have a specific breed I was looking for and I wanted an adult cat. Plus, I know that shelters are overflowing with animals. It seemed like a no brainer to me.

What brought you to PAWS?
I had been going to adoption fairs and scouring Petfinder.com for a couple months and was already well aware of PAWS.

When I finally got serious about adopting, I chose to go to PAWS in Lynnwood first because I lived close by...but I honestly didn't expect to find my cat that quickly! I assumed I would have to hit up a couple other shelters (including PAWS Cat City in Seattle) before I found "the one."

What was it that most attracted you to Harper?
How calm and relaxed she appeared. I grew up with dogs and never had a cat before so I was really hoping to find one that wouldn't be too crazy.

While I was at PAWS I also considered another cat who was far more rambunctious when I had some one on one time with him. While he was adorable, I thought "Harper" was more ideal for a beginner cat owner. I was 100% correct! Her personality was what sold me, I honestly didn't even realize how pretty she was until I brought her home.

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How did Harper become Scout? 
I've always thought it was a cute name ever since I read "To Kill a Mockingbird" back in high school. I told myself if I ever got a pet that Scout would be top on the list of names I would consider.

How would you describe her personality?
She really has the sweetest disposition and is very affectionate. She's pretty social too and never hides from people when they come to visit. She likes to be the center of attention.

Just the other day, two guys from the cable company were over fixing some wireless internet issues and I swear she was flirting her fuzzy butt off the entire time! She's also a bit of a goofball... ok, more than just a bit.

Scout the Huntress from Camille on Vimeo.

Of course she has her sassy moments too, but those are few and far between. She's a sweetheart the majority of the time.

How was your adoption experience with PAWS?
It was very positive. I was a little worried because I never had a cat, but I clearly did my homework before I got there so I think the gentleman that helped me with the adoption was pretty happy about that and knew I wasn't making a rash decision.

How was your journey home and settling in together?
The whole drive home after the adoption she was meowing up a storm, but once I let her out of her carrier she went straight into exploring the whole house. After she finished she just relaxed and hung out with me the rest of the day...and it's been that way ever since!

I think I was more stressed out than she was when I first brought her home. I’d been talking about getting a cat for months, and when I finally did I couldn't believe she was there! I was just in awe of her and she wrapped me around her little paw in no time.

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We bonded very quickly. She honestly behaved as if she's known me since kittenhood. She didn't hide under the bed or have any behavior issues due to a new environment. She settled in beautifully.

Any funny moments in your life together so far?
There was a bit of kitty drama going on a couple months back. A neighborhood cat kept coming around our apartment looking up at our windows at night and Scout would lose her mind whenever she saw it. It was like Romeo and Juliet except Juliet wasn't interested and threw a temper tantrum whenever Romeo stopped by. Eventually Romeo got tired of rejection and had his revenge by peeing on Juliet's welcome mat. True story.

How has Scout changed your life?
I've actually noticed I'm less stressed out and a lot happier. She's been a wonderful companion and whenever I'm in a bad mood, I just need to look at her and I can't help but smile.

Sleepy Kitty from Camille on Vimeo.

What advice do you have for people considering adopting a cat?
I still consider myself a "newbie" when it comes to cat ownership but I learn every day. Like not to freak out over every little thing. I didn't know that cats shed more than just their fur. When I found one of Scout’s claws (which, I'd later discover, was a claw sheath) in the carpet, I was so upset I thought she was hurt! Turns out it's totally normal and a good thing.

Most importantly, be sure you're ready for the responsibility and pick the right cat that’s going to be the happiest with what you can provide for them. It took me over 10 years after I moved out of my parents’ house to decide I was ready to have my first pet.

This animal will depend on you to take care of them and to keep them safe and happy. Trust me, if you’re able to do that successfully, the rewards will be well worth it. There's nothing like it in the world. The best decision I ever made in my life was going to PAWS that September day and adopting my girl.

Thanks for sharing this great story Camille, and for choosing to give a much-needed second chance to an animal in need. We're delighted to have helped you find your perfect forever feline, and wish you many more years of goofball-ness ahead! Readers, you can follow Scout (AKA @sillykittyscout) on Instagram.

Find your Scout todayadopt.

Donate now and help us continue providing a safe place for companion animals in need until they find their forever families.


By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

When you think about ducks or waterfowl the first duck that comes to mind is probably your run-of-the-mill mallard; the most commonly seen ducks in the United States. However there are over 25 different species of ducks in the U.S. and they are all quite unique.

Some of the more magnificent looking are the mergansers or saw-billed ducks.

Mergansers are diving waterfowl who feed on an array of small to medium sized fish they catch under water. They are sometimes called saw-billed because their bill is narrow, long, serrated and has a hooked tip adapted for catching fish.

There are three species of mergansers found across the United States which also reside right here in Washington. Already this summer PAWS Wildlife Center has cared for two of these species.

Hooded Merganser – the North American endemic
Hooded Mergansers are the smallest merganser and their range is restricted to North America. During the breeding season hooded drakes are easily distinguishable because of their striking black and white head (pictured below).

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Females nest in tree cavities and are known to lay eggs in nests that don’t belong to them. Their ducklings leap from the nest high above the ground when they are just one day old.

Hooded Mergansers have been studied for over 40 years and have helped researchers understand how acid precipitation influences ecosystem processes, providing evidence of the build-up of chemical contaminants in different habitats.

Red-breasted Merganser – the swift world traveler
Red-breasted Mergansers (ducklings pictured below during rehab at PAWS) are a large merganser with a shaggy crest. Drakes have a white ring around their neck, an iridescent green head and orange bill during the breeding season.

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They prefer a more marine habitat, nest on the ground and migrate further than the other merganser species found in North America.

They are also the fasted duck ever recorded and can attain a top airspeed of 100 mph!

Common Merganser – the not so common merganser
Despite their name Common Mergansers (pictured below) are not quite so common; during most of the year they spend their time on the open water. During the breeding season drakes are snowy white with a very dark green head and reddish-orange bill.

Common-Merganser-KS

Females nest in tree cavities up to 100 feet above the ground and their ducklings leap from the nest when they are one day old. Females will protect their ducklings but they find all their own food.

PAWS Wildlife Center recently released four juvenile Hooded Mergansers that we received as small ducklings. They were found alone in a storm drain in Woodinville. After 36 days in our care they were returned back to the wild among other ducks - and, judging by the speed they left their carrier (video below), were very happy to be home!

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

Currently we are caring for a lone Hooded Merganser and five Red-breasted Mergansers. The Hooded Merganser was found alone and too young to survive on his own and the Red-breasted were found alone running in the road.

After just a few more weeks in our care all six of these magnificent mergansers will be released back to the wild to frolic with other ducks their own age.

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 Sean Twohy, PAWS Wildlife Center Volunteer

Making wild animals a part of your life can be a rewarding and gratifying experience!

The act of watching birds build a nest or seeing salmon in a stream can provide a sense of connectedness to the world around us – and a welcome break from the day-to-day grind of working in an office (or daily life in a bustling city like Seattle!).

Even more, these interactions lead to a sense of responsibility and community toward the other creatures who share our space. So, how can you make the most of your wildlife watching?

Here are some things to consider:

Keep a safe distance
Keeping enough space between you and wildlife ensures that whatever you’re watching can continue its natural behavior without feeling threatened or disturbed enough to flee.

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Perhaps most importantly, by keeping a respectful distance you will reduce the likelihood of that wild animal becoming habituated to human presence – something that could negatively impact its survival. While there's no set standard, if the animal you’re watching becomes agitated or changes its behavior, you’re probably too close.

Don’t feed your wild neighbors
This can happen accidentally (through leaving garbage bins open or pet food outside) or on purpose; either way, it’s generally best to leave wild animals to find their own food to avoid some of the following problems:

  • The animals start to rely on a food source that may disappear (when you go on vacation)
  • The animals may lose their fear of people (which can disrupt an otherwise peaceful coexistence between wildlife and humans in a particular area or neighborhood)
  • Feeding wildlife can have unforeseen consequences on the environment (did you know that—as well as being unhealthy for them—bread left behind by ducks causes spikes in algae and harmful bacteria, which can kill off fish and make the water dangerous for swimmers?)

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Keep pets away – ideally inside!
Even the most placid and sweet-natured of pets can pose a risk to wildlife (did you know that cats are the number one killer of suburban birds?), and wildlife injuring or even killing our pets can be a distressing fact of life for many living here in the Pacific Northwest.

To enjoy wildlife on your own doorstep, be sure that any pets kept outside are safely enclosed in your yard at all times, and brought in at night. Better still—for cat owners—consider transitioning your feline friend from an outdoor to an indoor lifestyle.

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Provide a natural backyard habitat
While a large green lawn has been the standard of American tradition for some time, it’s not the most enriching environment for wildlife.

If you’d like to have more wild neighbors coming to visit, consider planting borders of native flowers and foliage, don’t sweep up those fallen leaves quite so often, and maximize any sources of moisture such as water features or streams.

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Trees (even dead ones) and native foliage will give birds, bats and other creatures many a useful nesting, resting or hiding spot!

Last but not least… be aware! You’re often closer than you think to a wide variety of wildlife. Keep your eyes and ears open to everything around you, and the animal’s well-being at the forefront of your mind, and your experience with it can be a great one.

Found a wild animal you think needs help? Learn how PAWS can help.

Want to find out more about interacting with wildlife? Read our do's and don'ts online guidance.

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


By Kellie Benz, PAWS Staff

That first night. Oh, that first night.

Okay, I’ll admit it. I spent the first night that I brought Henry home (at PAWS he was Gru) just staring at him. I took pictures too and some video. I loved him instantly.

Henry, on the other hand, spent the first night testing each item of furniture. He tested the bed for stretch-ability. Could he get a full length body stretch across my mattress? Check.

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Then he tested the couch for comfort. Was there an equal amount of room to curl up and sink into cushions? Check. Could he knead the blankets deep enough for his claws not to touch surface? Check. Was there enough distance from this odd lady who kept staring? Check. Double check.

While I was madly in love immediately, Henry was still assessing the situation. While I was posting to Facebook about my new family member, he was one-eyeing me with uncertainty. For me, we were family. For Henry, the jury was still out. He seemed to think it best to sleep on the final decision overnight.

Can't see Henry kneading in the video opposite? Try watching it on our Vimeo channel instead.

Taking a new "baby" home can be a little nerve-wracking, and with cats you’re never quite certain if you meet with their approval.

For all of you—like me—who made adopting a cat a priority for Adopt-A-Cat Month, here’s a little "first night" primer for what to expect;

Do you have all the essentials?

  • Water
  • Dish
  • Fresh food – dry and wet
  • Litter box
  • Litter

Want a full rundown of what to expect? Check out this information in the PAWS online resource library. Once you’ve got the essentials for his or her first night, what should you expect from your new fur-family member in the way of behavior?

“A cat needs to know its surroundings, so he or she is going to spend a lot of time sniffing,” explains Steph Renaud, PAWS Cat City Supervisor, “and perhaps, sneezing.”

That’s right, cats react to new smells and irritants too.

“Give them a chance to adjust to their new surroundings. This is their home and they’ve got a lifetime to discover it, so let them go slow and find their way on their own time.” Steph encourages. And, if they keep sneezing (like Henry did), bring that up with your vet on your first visit.

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Naturally, you already know that every cat is unique and—of course—your new darling is the most interesting being who has ever existed. 

For any questions about his/her behavior, the PAWS Resource Library is a thorough hub of online articles for most every cat preparation need you might have. 

If you’re introducing your new cat to another cat, take the time to read this. Same goes for introducing a new cat to its new canine sibling.

“There’s no better solution than love and patience.” Says Steph, “If you can remember this, then your latest family member will transition nicely to his or her brand new surroundings.”

As for Henry, he suffered just a few days of ‘everything’s-new-itis’, and it only took a little more than 72 hours to discover that he’s probably a birder at heart – more interested in cat food with bird as the base than fish (lucky for my local wildlife, Henry’s also an indoor cat). 

Phew-y, gross, ick fish – according to the tiny panther I now work for.

Suffice to say, Henry’s home now and lucky for me, he seems to like it.


Looking for a feline friend? Browse our available cats here. 

Check out our Adopt-A-Cat Month special here - fees waived on weekdays in June for adult and senior cats, thanks to Road to Puppy Bowl funding from Animal Planet and the ASPCA!

Have your own homecoming story to share? We'd love to hear it! Email us or post a message on our Facebook page.


By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

As an organization who rehabilitates bears, we couldn't let Bear Awareness Week in Washington go by without sharing some top tips and fascinating facts to help you be more bear aware this summer. 

There are two species of bears in Washington - Grizzly and Black Bears. Grizzlies in western Washington spend all of their time high up in the cascades and are hardly seen. And, although Black Bears tend to avoid contact with humans, they have adapted to living in closer proximity to us due to habitat loss and the expansion of human populations into their habitat.

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Grizzly Bears are federally listed as threatened and state listed as endangered. There is estimated to be less than one hundred Grizzly Bears in Washington; half live in the North Cascades and the other half in the Selkirk Ecosystem on the Washington Idaho border. Grizzly bears have almost been hunted to extinction in the lower 48 states and have lost 98% of their original habitat.

Black Bears, on the other hand, are the most common and widely distributed bear in North America. It's estimated there are as many as 25,000 in Washington. Black Bears are classified as a game species in Washington and there is an annual hunting season.

If you spend a lot of time outside this summer in bear country keep these things in mind:

  • Do not hike alone 
  • Make noise on the trail 
  • Carry bear spray and have it accessible 
  • Never run from a bear

Although Black Bears are numerous in Washington and Oregon, sometimes injured individuals and orphans need our help.

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Since 1986 PAWS has successfully rehabilitated and released 78 Black Bears back to the mountains of Washington and Oregon. We recently released five cubs, a few of which we'd been caring for since last spring.

As you can imagine, rehabilitating bears is no small task and we've developed some very strict guidelines for the staff who care for them. Bears must have their enclosures cleaned daily and they must be isolated as much as possible from humans.

To make sure the bears do not become habituated to humans, we've developed a special system to move our patients from one enclosure to another so they can be cleaned and fed without contact. It takes several hours each day to complete these tasks.

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You may ask "How do you feed bears?". Well, it’s definitely not as simple as feeding a dog or cat! Staff actually have to think like a bear and hide the food in their enclosures, encouraging them to use their senses to search for food as they would in the wild. We even put fish in small pools where the bears have to actually search and “fish” them out (see video below).

We typically receive orphaned cubs here at PAWS, which can spend anywhere from six months to a year in our care. This requires a lot of investment in food! Growing bear cubs can consume over 30 lbs of food a week and PAWS can house up to seven at one time. That's over 200 lbs of food a week for several months!

All of this hard work leads up to the eventual release of the bears back to their natural habitat, far up in the mountains away from humans. We have help from state agencies in both Washington and Oregon to find suitable release sites for the bears - sites where they'll have the best chance at a fresh start in the wild. 

Want to be even more bear aware? Visit Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Western Wildlife Outreach.

Inspired by our work with bears? 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 Katherine Spink, PAWS Staff

There’s a lot of dirty work involved in being a cat volunteer at PAWS. From cleaning litter trays and mopping floors, to dishing out cat food and tackling piles of laundry, it takes dedication, patience and—at times—a strong nose!

But talk to any of our dedicated team and it’s more than worth it. Because they get to enjoy the fun stuff too – think cuddles, muffin making, wand toy playing, and purring.

Our adorable adoptables’ way of saying thank you.

In celebration of June's Adopt-a-Cat Month, we asked our volunteers to take a selfie with their favorite adoptable kitty – the ones who have captured their hearts, who they find it hard to tear themselves away from after their shift has ended, and who will stay in their minds long after they’ve found their perfect forever home.

For many, choosing just one cat was a challenge in itself! Here are some of our favorites:

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Amanda & Ophelia (above left): It's hard to resist sweet, outgoing Ophelia when she gives you her signature adorable head tilt, along with a little chirp to say "pet me!"

Dawn & Kate Bosworth (above right): Love this girl. Yes, she can be a little sassy, but she does have that cute cuddling face. HOW CAN YOU NOT LOVE THOSE CHEEKS!

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Hillary & Poette (above left): This gorgeous girl has become pretty outgoing. When you look into her eyes your heart will melt! She's more than just your average black cat. Come visit Poette today and you'll see what I mean!

Les & Peanut (above center): Who loves ya, Peanut? Who doesn't!

Tammie & Fiona (above right): Fiona is a stunning girl with a mind of her own and desire to be an only kitty. She has a playful, attentive independence and infinite spunk!

And—if these glowing reports weren't enough to convince you to adopt right this second—their adoption fees are waived on weekdays in June, thanks to Road to Puppy Bowl funded by Animal Planet and the ASPCA.

Inspired to meet these fabulous felines? Find out more about them here, and start your adoption journey today.


Can’t have a kitty but would like some fur time once in a while?
Sign up to be a volunteer here.
If these kitties in need have touched your heart,
please consider giving to PAWS today.


By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

At PAWS Wildlife Center we understand how important collaborating with outside organizations is to having a successful wildlife rehabilitation program.

We often work with other wildlife rehabilitation centers in our area, transferring young animals so they can grow up with conspecifics (members of the same species). This is essential to growing babies as it greatly reduces the likelihood of them becoming used to human contact. They also learn the skills they'll need to survive in the wild from each other.

So far in 2015 we’ve transferred out a young coyote to grow up with eight adopted siblings at Sarvey Wildlife Care Center and a river otter pup. We’ve transferred in a young barn owlet (pictured below) and a Hooded Merganser duckling to grow up with the ones we’re currently housing.

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When releasing wildlife we reach outside of the rehabilitation world, and work very closely with state and county agencies—as well as nonprofit organizations—to find suitable release sites for our patients.

It’s important that our patients go back to the exact location they came from; but sometimes this isn’t possible. For these cases we rely on other organizations to assist us in finding areas that not only have suitable habitat but are also, for some species, a place away from high human activity.

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King County Parks has been very helpful in helping us release Raccoons, Black Tailed Deer, River Otters and even Hummingbirds on their park lands. 

The Falcon Research Group has helped us return Peregrine Falcons back to their nests and reunite Cooper’s Hawks with their siblings in the wild.

We collaborate with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association for releasing marine mammals rehabilitated at PAWS.

When it comes to Black Bear releases, we seek assistance from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and their Karelian Bear Dog Program.

Karelian Bear Dogs are trained from a young age to seek out cougars and bears, assist wildlife officers and biologists with tracking and releasing wildlife, and detect evidence used in criminal cases. 

Bear releases are our biggest of the year, and we sometimes release as many as five in one day – quite the operation! Taken high up in the mountains, away from people near their point of origin, the presence of these impressive dogs (pictured above) helps ensure that the bears are less likely to cause conflicts and more likely to stay away from humans after their return to the wild. 

It can often to take a village to save the lives of our wild neighbors. Thanks to this supportive network of organizations working closely together, wildlife here in the Pacific Northwest can continue to thrive. 

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, PAWS Naturalist

You may remember, back in early October of 2014, PAWS Wildlife Center received a patient we'd never treated before – a Steller Sea Lion pup, estimated to be only four months old. Today we look back at his rehabilitation and share the happy ending that saw him return to Washington waters this spring.

Found alone on a beach in southwest Washington, the pup was brought to PAWS by a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) marine mammal biologist for treatment.

Below is one of the pictures we took of him just after he arrived. He was very thin, weak, anemic, had multiple lacerations, and only weighed 68 lbs. A healthy Steller Sea Lion at that age should weigh at least twice that much.

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Examined on intake by our veterinarian team, and given fluids and a specialized formula, PAWS staff worked diligently over the next few days to stabilize the pup and get him on solid food. With every feeding he regained his strength and, after a week, he was happily eating fish and had gained over 15 lbs.

Adult male Stellers can weigh up to 2,500 lbs so, even in the short amount of time he would spend with us, we knew this patient was going to grow quite a bit! With this in mind, he was moved to a larger enclosure with a more suitable pool for swimming: 


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

Steller Sea Lions are very social and interact with other pinnipeds (a carnivorous aquatic mammal of the order Pinnipedia, such as the Harbor Seal) in the wild. Since our sea lion patient was so young, it was extremely important that he be exposed to other sea lions. Given it was unlikely we'd get another one during that time of year, it was decided he'd be transferred to a facility where he could be housed with others like him until his release back in Washington.

On November 14 he was flown—as part of a U.S. Coast Guard training mission—to California to continue his long term rehabilitation at The Marine Mammal Center (TMMC). 

In his four months there—housed in a large pool (pictured below) where he could socialize with California Sea Lions and Northern Fur Seals—he gained over 150 lbs, and developed skills he'd need to survive on his own in the wild (Stellers at this age would still be learning these skills from their mom).

SSL-at-TMMC-in-poolPhoto reproduced courtesy of The Marine Mammal Center

On April 17, the eight-month-old, 300 lb male Steller sea lion pup was transported back to Washington by WDFW – and PAWS was along for the ride. During his transport the Steller rested peacefully in his transport crate, intermittently watching the world go by through the small slats (see below). Though he made sure to announce his presence every time the team stopped for gas or food along the way!

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He was released near where he was rescued on the Southwest coast. Before his release he was affixed with a GPS transmitter that will allow biologists to track his movements and see how he is does in the future.

Currently he’s off the coast of the Olympic Peninsula. You can track his movements too using this link.

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Although Steller Sea Lions are no longer federally listed in the Pacific Northwest, they are still a very important part of the marine ecosystem and are still threatened by habitat degradation, ship strikes and over fishing.

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We were thrilled to be a part of this collaborative effort between NOAA, WDFW, Seattle Aquarium, TMMC and the U.S. Coast Guard – rehabilitating and returning this Steller Sea Lion back to Washington waters where he belongs.

Found a marine mammal you think needs help? Find out what to do.

Help us continue providing care to wild animals in need. Donate here.

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


By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

You may wonder what all the chatter is about every morning outside your windows. Well it’s officially breeding season for birds in Washington, and adults have been busily building nests, protecting territories, and trying to attract mates for weeks.

With the onset of the breeding season comes the opening of the baby bird nursery (pictured below) at PAWS Wildlife Center. Last year alone we successfully raised and released over 160 baby songbirds encompassing 20 different species. So far this year, we already have more than 30 chirping, hungry babies to care for.

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The care and survival of these babies is placed in the hands of our wonderful volunteers, who work diligently from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day feeding and cleaning. It's quite a task to keep up with, as different age groups and species of birds require different levels of care.

Some of our patients need to be fed every 15 minutes, others every two hours. Some bird diets consist of seeds while others (like that of the Red-winged Blackbird chick pictured below) consist of insects.

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There's a delicate balance between the type of food, the amount of food, and time in between feedings that has to be managed for each baby bird. And all of these factors play a crucial role in the growth and development of each bird.

Another important factor in raising wild baby birds is the environment they're raised in. Our babies are often paired with conspecifics (others of the same species) or with other species that are similar in their dietary needs.

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Their enclosures are full of native vegetation (see an example above, with Stellers Jay babies) which allows them to learn natural perching and hiding behaviors. In the background, instead of hearing human voices, they hear Northwestern songbird calls recorded by one of our very own volunteers.

With the right amount of food, time and care—combined with the proper environment—our once small, fragile hatchlings grow into strong sub adult birds that are then released back to the wild near where their parents originally set up house.

Want to join our team of Bird Nursery Caretakers? All the info you need is here. 

Found a baby bird in need? Find out how PAWS can help.

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


By Sean Twohy, PAWS Wildlife Center Volunteer

When I signed up to be a volunteer at PAWS Wildlife Center, I had no expectation that I would ever actually see animals. I assumed that volunteers were there to wash dishes and do laundry.

My first day as a volunteer, I peered through the window of an operating room and watched as the staff brushed out the fur of a small woolly bear cub.

The next shift, I held a crow as it was given daily meds, felt a gust of wind from the wings of a Bald Eagle, and scrubbed the shell of a Western Pond Turtle.

Last week, I fed baby squirrels (see picture below). Soon, a flood of other baby animals will arrive and I'll be given new training and new experiences.

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Hands-on Experience & A Shared Goal
PAWS makes it very clear that the number one priority is successfully rehabilitating and releasing wild animals—nothing is more important to each member of the staff. What I quickly realized was that volunteers are seen an integral part of that process.

Volunteers are treated as future co-workers and, wherever possible, staff members take the time to involve them in the process of rehabilitating.

From feeding and cleaning animals, to medicating and providing enrichment activities, the staff works to shape each volunteer into knowledgeable members of the team.

Helping You Help the Environment
Along with receiving amazing amounts of hands-on training, volunteers are encouraged to use their time at PAWS to facilitate goals and guide their passions. Internships are available for a wide variety of objectives and the staff is eager to see every volunteer achieve their goals.

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Volunteering at PAWS is a chance to gain real experience while doing something important for wildlife. From the beginning, PAWS has stepped up to provide me with means to reach my goals.

Pictured, right (images by students at The Arts Institute of Seattle): whether it's through DIY, dog cuddling, laundry or lost and found support, volunteers contribute so much to PAWS! 

From working with wildlife to writing, they have given me—and created for me—opportunities to grow, both as a professional and as a member of the community.

I have only been here a little over three months, and can already see my strengths being leveraged and nourished. While the immediate gratification of working with wildlife and helping the environment is amazing, I am even more humbled by PAWS’ larger commitment to the future of its staff and volunteers.

Thanks for this great insight into volunteering at PAWS, Sean! If—after reading this—you're inspired to get involved, follow the links below for more details or email volunteer@paws.org.

Volunteer at PAWS and help make a difference to the lives of our wild neighbors.

Inspired by our work? Make a gift and help us continue providing a safe haven for wildlife in need.