As fall is in full swing our summer residents are being released back to the wild. All 44 of our Raccoons have been released and the deer are awaiting their release scheduled for next week. During early October our four Harbor Seal pup patients were returned to the wild after growing up at the PAWS Wildlife Center. Here are their stories.
Harbor Seal 15-2200 was the first to arrive at PAWS this year. He was a very small seal estimated to only be a few days old when found on a busy part of the beach in Lincoln Park. After being observed for several days by the Seal Sitters, NOAA Fisheries granted them permission to bring him into PAWS for rehabilitation. Upon arrival he weighed 18.5 pounds and had multiple puncture wounds on his flippers and head.
Harbor Seal 15-2800 was our last seal patient of the season and arrived on July 25th. She was found on a beach near a boat launch in Poulsbo. It was reported to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife that someone dumped the pup off at a boat launch and others were moving her around on the beach. When 2800 arrived she was only 16 pounds and was thin and dehydrated.
Once they had been quarantined and were eating fish on their own 2200 and 2800 were combined into one pool which they shared for the remainder of their care. On Oct 9th both seals were released together near a known Harbor Seal haul out with some help from the Coast Guard Auxiliary.
Harbor Seal 15-2427 was a young female pup found abandoned near Allyn and brought to us by NOAA Fisheries on July 6th. She was seen on the beach alone for 3 days not going in the water and was reported to NOAA Fisheries. Upon arrival at PAWS she was just over 16lbs, was thin and had several soft tissue wounds on her head, flipper and in her mouth.
Harbor Seal 15-2655 was also brought to PAWS Wildlife Center by NOAA Fisheries and arrived on July 17th. He was found on a busy beach near Olympia. No attending adult was seen with the pup for a 24 hour period of time and people started to approach and touch him.
He was estimated to just be 2 or 3 days old and weighed almost 24 lbs upon his arrival at PAWS. Other than being dehydrated and thin he had no wounds or injuries.
Harbor seals 2427 and 2655 also shared a pool for the majority of their stay with us and on October 12th both seals were released together with the help of NOAA Fisheries.
Fun facts about our summer seal patients:
15-2200 was the biggest seal this season weighing in at over 68 lbs upon his release.
15-2427 quickly established herself as the feistiest of all of our seal patients this season and would not hesitate to snap her jaws when approached for exams.
15-2427 and 15-2655 became inseparable and were spotted swimming together shortly after their release.
15-2800 was our smallest seal this season weighing just over 55 lbs upon her release.
I’ve been volunteering at PAWS Wildlife Center for over a year now. I initially started at PAWS because I was familiar with their Companion Animal Shelter, where my family adopted our dog, and I had been developing an interest in wildlife. I’d heard great things about the Wildlife Center so I decided to become a volunteer and see if it was something I would like. Now, I’m just about to finish my summer internship and I’ve really enjoyed my time at PAWS. I feel I’ve grown tremendously since I started as a volunteer, knowing little about wildlife, to now being trained in just about every area of the Wildlife Center.
This summer I spent my time between three internships: wildlife rehabilitation, avian wildlife rehabilitation, and wildlife releases. Each one was unique and offered its own skills and experiences.
In wildlife rehabilitation I learned basic skills like administering daily medications and fluids, as well as preparing various diets. I would say that this aspect of the wildlife center had the most variety. I found myself doing so many different things in one day ranging from cleaning to daily medical care to grounds maintenance projects. This is also where I interacted with the most species and got a lot of practice with my handling skills, which was my favorite part about Wildlife Care Assistant work.
As an avian wildlife rehabilitation intern I was in charge of the baby bird nursery. My duties included administering medications and fluids, keeping the feeding board and cage cards updated, and monitoring the health of each bird. I also learned different techniques and methods for handling and feeding different bird species based on size, as well as the different diets associated with each species.
I really love birds so my favorite part about the baby bird nursery was being able to see all of the different types of birds that came in, being able to identify them, and learn what enclosure set-ups and diets are particular to each species.
Being an intern for the naturalist was by far my favorite position at PAWS. It allowed me to see a different side of wildlife rehabilitation and helped me think more about what happens to the animals we care for after they’re released. Some of my duties included accompanying the naturalist and rehabber on their rounds to determine which patients were ready for release, locating release sites for patients based on proximity to the location they were found and resources available at that site, and helping the naturalist with releases.
This was the most interesting internship to me because it allowed me to learn a lot about each species and how they interact with their environment. It gave another dimension to wildlife rehabilitation that you don’t usually think about while caring for each patient in the center.
The reason I chose to intern in so many different areas was to explore my career interests. I knew I wanted to work with wildlife but wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do. Now after experiencing everything this summer, I know that while I really enjoy the medical and handling aspect of wildlife rehabilitation, I want to learn more about field and naturalist work because I love learning about the natural history of each species and seeing how they interact with the world, and I also really enjoy animal behavior as well as observing animals in the field. I’m so grateful for the experience I’ve had as a PAWS intern.
I know that all of the skills and information I’ve learned here will be of use to me in my future and I plan on continuing to volunteer in order to keep up with my skills and to keep having valuable encounters with wildlife.
As fall approaches things are winding down from a very busy summer at PAWS Wildlife Center. Although all of our spring baby birds are gone, we are still caring for some of our spring baby mammals, in particular Coyotes, Raccoons and deer.
All three of these species spend a lot more time with their mothers than baby birds do so they need a little extra time in our care before they are old enough to survive on their own.
Three female coyote pups have been in our care since the beginning of June. Each was orphaned and found alone too young to survive on their own. When they arrived they were just over three months old and were very thin and dehydrated.
Although they originated from different locations they have been raised as siblings since shortly after arriving at PAWS. Each has their own personality and they spend their days romping around and playing when not taking naps and hiding.
Through enrichment provided by our staff they have learned valuable survival skills they will use when released back to the wild next week.
We have also cared for forty-four Raccoons this summer, all of whom were orphaned or sick when they arrived. We received our first Raccoon at PAWS near the end of April and the last youngster of the year arrived on September 2nd.
These little ones spent the beginning of their time with us in their own special Raccoon nursery being raised by our staff, interns and advanced volunteers. Once old enough they headed outside to the silos where they now reside awaiting release.
When many of them arrived they were only half a pound and their eyes were still closed. Now they are curious subadults who spend their days exploring enrichment items, searching for food in their enclosure and sleeping in a pile.
Raccoon releases will begin near the end of September and continue into October.
All six of our deer patients are doing great and are starting to lose their baby spots. Luckily their large enclosure did not suffer any damage from the high winds that hit Lynnwood a few weeks ago and they are still able to roam through the brush and hide amongst the salmon berry. Our staff is kept busy cutting fresh browse for them daily to help them grow big and strong enough for their late October release.
As fall starts to rear its head in the Pacific Northwest birds are preparing for the winter. Some are getting ready to travel to a far off place while others will be hunkering down locally.
What better way to celebrate all the amazing birds that live right here in Puget Sound area than attending a couple festivals this weekend. PAWS will be present at both events to celebrate and help educate people about our surroundings and the amazing creatures that live in it.
Puget Sound Bird Fest is a free annual three day event to celebrate birds and nature found on the shores of Puget Sound. This event is geared towards all ages and includes guest speakers, guided walks, field trips, exhibits and educational activities.
Events kick off Friday September 11th at 7:30pm at the Edmonds Plaza Room (650 Main Street) with keynote speaker Dr. John Marzluff, from the University of Washington, presenting on living with birds in an urban setting and the rich bird diversity being preserved in the suburbs and city parks.
Wood Duck (left) and Belted Kingfisher (right)
Saturday and Sunday are packed full of events including birding cruises and guided walks, low tide beach walks, photography workshops and talks by local bird researchers.
There will also be vendors and booths full of information about local organizations and wildlife.
Another free event happening in conjunction with Puget Sound Bird Fest is Swift Night Out in Monroe.
This event celebrates the return of Vaux’s Swifts to the Wagner Center chimney. This is a short stop over for Vaux’s Swifts as they migrate south for the winter. As many as 26,000 swifts have been observed entering this 31 foot tall, 4 square foot chimney. This amazing natural event occurs annually in Monroe and is the 2nd largest Vaux’s Swift roost in America.
This event runs from 5:00 pm until dusk and will host information booths from local organizations, fun activities for kids and food will be available for purchase.
Bring a blanket or lawn chair to watch the show.
PAWS will have staffed booths at both events so stop on by and say hi!
Summer vacations are over for another year and the daily school routine is back on. That can only mean one thing – PAWS educators are looking forward to being back in the classroom to inspire and empower the next generations of animal champions!
Education is an important part of what we do here at PAWS. As Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” We hope to see our next generations growing up with a deep respect and empathy for all living creatures.
We’re incredibly excited to offer a few new classroom programs this school year, as well as some returning favorites:
Reaching out to younger audiences, we’re introducing Companion Animals are Cool and Growing up Wild. Kindergarteners through second graders will enjoy taking part in engaging activities while they learn about the wonderful worlds of pets and wild animals.
Everybody Needs a Home is specially designed for children in second and third grades and uses fun discussion and practical activities to look at the broad themes of home, family and the interdependence of living things.
Careers Helping Animals is offered to fifth grade classrooms and – as well as looking at career options for animal lovers – is designed to inspire and empower children to start making a difference for animals right away.
Kids Who Care is a longer program that we’re very proud to be able to provide to fourth grade classrooms in our area. Over the course of six one-hour classes, we cover a range of topics including responsible pet care, pet adoption, wildlife rehabilitation and scientific study methods.Teachers who’ve had Kids Who Care in their classroom are consistently enthusiastic about its varied content and the positive impact it has on their students.
Would you like to help PAWS spread the messages of compassionate treatment of animals and conservation of wild habitats? Here’s what you can do:
One of the most commonly seen city birds around the world is the Rock Pigeon. You typically see these gray birds with shimmery heads perched on roof tops and in parks waiting to snag their next meal. Rock Pigeons are a non-native species in the U.S., introduced into North America from Europe in the 17th century. They are very adaptable and thrive in urban areas.
However, did you know that there is species of pigeon that is native to North and South America and can be seen right here in Washington?
Band-tailed Pigeons are a more elusive pigeon that prefers the quiet life of the forest but will sometimes venture out of the woods to more urban areas to forage. They look quite different than your typical pigeon; they are a soft blue-gray above and purplish-gray below with a white crescent on the back of the neck. They are named for the pale gray band on the tip of their tail.
The diet of the Band-tail Pigeon includes seeds, fruits, acorns, pine nuts and flowers of woody plants. They can travel 3 miles a day to find food. Nesting in trees, the nest is constructed by both the male and female over a three to six day period. They only lay one or two eggs at a time but can do this up to 3 times during the breeding season.
Every year we receive several Band-tailed Pigeons in need of care at PAWS Wildlife Center. Since 2003 we have released 176 of these birds back to the wild. Many come in as babies who are raised by our staff, others are victims of window strikes or cat attacks. This year we have already released eight and currently have three Band-tails in care including two orphaned youngsters.
All three Band-tails will be released just in time for their fall migration to central California.
If you’ve ever succumbed to the persuasive powers of an adoptable cat (or two, or more!), chances are Amanda’s experience with PAWS alumnus Malcolm will resonate with you. For those of you thinking about adding a feline friend to your family, her moving story of life with a senior cat may open up a whole new world of potentially perfect companions.
This is a letter to anyone considering the adoption of a senior cat, and to the people at PAWS who made this all possible.
When I adopted Malcolm he was seven and a half years old, with an arrhythmia of the heart and severe allergies to just about anything. However, to know Malcolm was to love Malcolm. This test has been proven several times, and he has a reputation for turning the most allergy ridden, insecure and unconfident human into a cat person.
He was amazing.
I was young when Malcolm chose me. I was 21, with only a part time job and a part time fiancé. I was two states away from my family, friends and the home I knew. I couldn’t afford his many ailments and I had every reason to say no. I even tried once. But in the end, there was no ‘saying no’ to Malcolm.
The day I brought him home was terrifying. I wondered if he would adapt well enough, if I was enough, if he could thrive in this home that I had built. Naturally, he walked in like he owned the place. In so many ways, he made me feel more at home there then I would have felt on my own. Every bit of love I gave to him, he returned ten times over. It was as though he knew that I would be his ‘forever home’.
Malcolm was work. As I mentioned, he was allergic to everything; laundry detergents, fleas, flea medication, pain medication, grains, and scented litter. And then there was his heart murmur to keep an eye on. Some days, it was more than I could handle. But Malcolm acted every day as though he was worth it, and by the end of even the hardest day, he proved he was right.
I’m not going to go into detail of the years of loss, change and growth that we went through together; but I will say that he was by my side every second. Making him my first priority always resulted in the best solution. I couldn’t go wrong.
Malcolm died of a heart attack last week. He was mine for only five years. Five years is a very short relationship to have with a pet, but for me and for us, it was five years of love and adoration.
A senior cat can have a lot of love to give. They can lend you the experience you lack, and they can be the most confident partners. Senior cats know more about themselves than we, as humans, know of ourselves. All you have to do is listen with your heart and trust that your best will be enough.
My senior cat was a success story. And though it breaks my heart to be without him, he has taught me a valuable lesson: never dismiss a life because of age or ailments. When I am ready to adopt again, I hope to find another senior. I hope that anyone reading this message will take my advice to heart.
Summer is slowly coming to a close and with it marks the end of the baby bird season at PAWS Wildlife Center. At this point in time baby birds that migrate are preparing for their long journey south while others are finding their way on their own here in Washington.
Currently we are only caring for three babies in the baby bird nursery: a Spotted Towhee and two Barn Swallows. At the height of the season there were over 50 baby birds in the nursery at one time. Most of which were on different feeding schedules and diets.
This season we cared for 32 different species in the baby bird nursery. They ranged from larger birds like American Crows down to tiny birds like Anna’s Hummingbirds. The most common species this year were Dark-Eyed Juncos, American Crows, Violet-Green Swallows and Pacific Wrens. We also received a few rarities as well; a Red-Winged Black Bird, a Black Headed Grosbeak (pictured above) and four Downy Woodpeckers.
Over the past couple of months we have been slowly releasing our youngsters and so far this year we have released over 150 birds who were raised in the nursery.
A huge thank you to over 45 baby bird nursery volunteers and interns for working so hard this summer to make sure these babies get a second chance at life.
Here is a look at some of our memorable patients.
left to right: Cedar Waxwing, Anna's Hummingbird, Violet Green Swallows
left to right: Brown Headed Cowbird, American Goldfinch and House Finch, Bewick's Wren
What’s happening in Washington this month? Large congregations of birds are starting to come together in preparation for their long journey south this fall.
Some of the more obvious congregations you will see, even in our urban environment, are those of swallows.
Barn Swallow Fledgeling
Seven members of the swallow family breed in Washington each year (Violet-green, Cliff, Barn, Bank, Tree, Northern Rough-winged, and Purple Marten). You may have seen these birds swooping down like little fighter jets hunting for insects in open areas and seen their mud nests clinging to the sides of buildings and under bridges.
In late summer Swallows begin to join together on power lines along the road before they start their fall migration to Central and South America where insects are more abundant.
Photo by: Jamie Bails WDFW Biologist
Some species of swallows, such as Violet-green and Cliff seem to thrive in urban environments and are seen there more readily. Recently Jamie Bails, a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Habitat Biologist, discovered a nesting colony of Cliff Swallows in the most unlikely of places; tucked underneath a trestle on State Route 2 between Everett and Snohomish (pictured above). You can find out more about this fascinating story at WDFW Crossing Paths August 2015.
Cliff swallows traditionally nest on cliff sides and inside canyons. The increase in concrete buildings and bridges has provided more habitat options. This has resulted in a expansion of their range and evolution toward a smaller body size with longer wingspan to help them avoid speeding cars.
Although Cliff Swallows are numerous in the Seattle area we rarely receive them at PAWS Wildlife Center, however we do frequently receive Violet-green Swallows aptly named for their purplish green coloration. This year we received over forty, twenty-nine of which were juveniles (pictured above). This is twice as many as we have ever received in any one year.
Similar to the Cliff Swallow, Violet-greens thrive in urban environments due to their preference for open areas. Dr. John Marzluff, an author and professor at University of Washington, states in his book Welcome to Subirdia that Violet-green Swallows are the “kings of Subirdia” making up eight percent of all birds living in developments after construction. In fact, swallows of all types are the one of the most abundant urban birds.
Violet-green’s ability to thrive in a more urban environment is attributed to their exploitation of human-made nest cavities in boxes, soffits and streetlamps.
As you spend these last weeks of summer enjoying the outdoors stop to take a look around you and see if you can spot any of these little swallows zipping through the air. I bet you will see some in the most unlikely of places.
Dogs have always been part of Janiece’s life so, when her beloved Dozer passed away in 2012, it was somewhat inevitable that life soon began to feel empty and the pull to get another dog became stronger. Little did she know the amazing and life-changing adventure that awaited her with Roxy, adopted in January 2013 and now about to become a fully-fledged Search and Rescue dog!
How did you find Roxy? I love telling this story! In November of 2012, my old dog Dozer passed away and I soon started feeling the pull to get another dog. Of course, everyone loves to help you find a new dog, so my friends at work were scanning all the adoption sites for me. A good friend at work (and prior PAWS volunteer) found a shepherd mix she thought would be perfect. I raced to PAWS after work to meet her.
Just talking to her through the kennel door I could tell she wasn’t the dog for me, but as I walked by Roxy something made me stop. I’d seen her previously on the website but she hadn’t triggered anything with me, until I saw her. I instantly knew she was supposed to be in my life.
It was too late to do a meet and greet that day, so I planned to come back the next day. When I got there another family was visiting with her. I was crushed and hoped they wouldn’t click with her. Luckily for me they didn’t and I got to spend some time with her.
She didn’t really care about me and was basically just a big puppy at that point. All she really knew was how to sit for cookies. She had A LOT of energy and was a little nippy (ah, the herding breeds!). I was hooked and put a hold on her. She came home the next day and settled right in on the car ride home.
What were some of the highlights of your first weeks together? Oh dear, I wish I could say it was a honeymoon from the beginning, but that was not the case! She tried to attack my cat Bailey (there was a baby gate between them), spent a couple months peeing on the floor, and was horrible with visitors. She was, however, a total sweetheart! As she settled into her new life, we worked through all those issues . She’s now great with the cat (they share my bed), never pees inside and loves meeting new people!
Were you looking for a Search and Rescue candidate when you started looking for a dog? I was not, but quickly realized after I got Roxy, this dog NEEDS to work! The Snohomish County K9 Team was hosting an open house, so I decided to check it out. We joined in 2013. Two years later, here we are and my life has completely changed!
How does the training work? In Snohomish County, you’re first a member of Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue (SCVSAR). There are training requirements at the county level including navigation, first aid, and wilderness survival. The county also has specialty teams, such as K9 and Equine, and each team has additional training based on their specialty. On average it takes 18 to 24 (or more) months to certify a dog. There’s no cost for the training, however you do have to purchase and maintain your own equipment.
What makes Roxy such a good candidate for SAR? She has high drive (she LOVES to play tug and “hunt” people), she’s bold, energetic and athletic. She’s that dog that will go all day, rest for an hour and be ready to go again. That’s the type of dog that drives you crazy as a pet but makes an excellent SAR dog!
What does the life of a SAR dog involve? Training, training and more training! Pretty much I just try to keep up with her. We do agility once a week, train with the team once or twice a week, and work on obedience, etc. in between. She also has regular doggie play dates with her friends. Down time to just “be a dog” is really important too. It’s easy to burn a dog out with too much training.
In additional to all of that, it’s important to keep your SAR dog physically fit. We ask a lot of them when they’re working and they need to be prepared for that. We do something active pretty much every day, sometimes that’s a run, a romp at the park or a good hike.
Any funny training moments you can share? She had a brief stint as a sled dog while we were training at Mount Rainier. I fell down and she was so excited to start her problem she kept going. I held on and went for a little ride. I think I see skijoring (a winter sport where you’re on skis and pulled by a dog/horse/vehicle) in our future!
What will the next steps be once you’re certified? She’ll be ready to deploy on missions. She’s currently working on her Airscent Certification, which involves working off leash in large areas. We’ve also done some disaster and avalanche training, and will likely continue to pursue that after she’s certified in Airscent.
What advice do you have for anyone wanting to adopt a dog? First and foremost, make sure you’re getting a dog for the right reasons and you have the time to commit to dog ownership. Second, make sure you get the right dog for your lifestyle and be realistic about what that is. I see so many people get that “cute” working breed, then don’t give it a job. Those dogs will find a job, we’ve bred them to work. They may just decide that eating your couch or herding your children is the best job for them!
Get professional guidance from the beginning. Even if you’ve had dogs before, this helps get you and the dog off on the right foot. Give your dog time to adjust and try to see things from his/her perspective. Their entire world has just been turned upside down. Who knows what their history is? Their behavior is based on their past experiences, and that won’t change overnight.
Dogs of all shapes, sizes and personalities end up in shelters looking for that new forever family who’ll let their talents shine – whether those talents are delivering love through snuggles, creating laughter through fun times, or saving lives. Thank you, Janiece, for seeing Roxy’s potential and giving her the perfect career as well as the perfect home!