When most people hear the word “migration”, it evokes visions of large herds of hoofed mammals trekking across the open plains, or thousands of flapping wings filling the skies. But migration is not always a grand spectacle covering hundreds of miles like the examples you see projected on the movie screen in big budget nature films. Some migrations only cover a few hundred yards, and they may happen right under our noses without us ever noticing.
One such lower-key migration was taking place on March 1 at the Cedar River Watershed in North Bend. Dozens of Rough-skinned Newts were making their way from the forest to a wetland in which they would mate and lay their eggs. Unfortunately, a road lay between them and their goal.
Many newts died under the wheels of passing cars on March 1, but not all that were hit perished. A Naturalist named Julie, from the Cedar River Watershed Education Center, spotted the tiny bodies in the road and stopped to check for survivors. She found one. It was a male newt whose tail was lacerated and bleeding. Julie rescued him from the road and sent him to PAWS the following morning.
The newt was in our care for a total of 10 days, during which he received regular soaks in a rehydrating solution and topical antibiotics on his tail wound. He also went through a molt, and after shedding his skin he became more active and alert. His tail wound healed quickly, and before long he was ready to return home. He was released on March 12, on the edge of the breeding pond to which he had been migrating. Hopefully his return trip to the forest will be far less eventful.