The little Northern Saw-whet Owl sitting on the perch box eyed me suspiciously. And he did so with good reason—I am a predator in his eyes, afterall. But due to recent events, the owl had additional cause to be suspicious of anything in his immediate surroundings.

Northern Saw-whet Owl

On March 11, the unsuspecting owl was flying through the Arboretum near the University of Washington toward a branch, a bush, or some other destination, on what appeared to be a clear flight path. However, the path was anything but clear, and the owl was struck from the sky by an invisible object.

Northern Saw-whet Owl

Like thousands of birds do every year, the saw-whet owl had flown headlong into a window. When the light hits at just the right angle, a window behaves like a mirror, reflecting the nearby vegetation, sky or landscape. There are very few perfectly reflective vertical surfaces in nature, so birds who are looking at these window reflections have no reason to believe that what they're seeing is not real. Only the traumatic impact of the sudden collision breaks the illusion. If the bird is lucky, the illusion is the only thing that gets broken.

Northern Saw-whet Owl

In the case of this saw-whet owl, the collision resulted in head trauma and bruising, but no apparent broken bones. For the past two weeks he has been steadily recuperating from his injuries at the PAWS Wildlife Center. He was recently moved into an outdoor flight enclosure and is on track to make a full recovery.

Northern Saw-whet Owl

Not all birds who strike windows are as lucky as this owl. If you would like to learn more about preventing window strikes on your property, visit the Common Problems With Wildlife page on the PAWS website.

 Having a wildlife problem? PAWS can help

 

 

It’s that time of year again. Days are getting longer, plants are getting greener, and birds are getting louder. Some of this noise is welcome—who doesn’t like the dawn chorus of singing birds heralding the arrival of spring? But this performance is not limited to just the beautiful singers. They have a full percussion section backing them up, and as far as the percussionists are concerned, the louder they can play, the better.

The percussionists, of course, are woodpeckers. But despite their name, they will peck on pretty much anything that makes noise. The reverberations are intended to attract the attention of potential mates and intimidate potential rivals. The activity is called “drumming,” but when it is done on a metal surface, “hammering” may be a more accurate description. When a woodpecker drums on a chimney or vent cover, the sound resembles a jackhammer.

For several years in a row, a Red-breasted Sapsucker (a very small woodpecker species) on the PAWS campus has been using a metal streetlight cover as his sounding board. If you are standing under the pole when he is putting on his performance, the sound can be downright tooth-rattling.

Red-breasted sapsucker

The most common woodpeckers in Western Washington are the large Northern Flickers. On a recent morning walk, I heard two individuals of this species having a decibel duel. The birds were about two blocks apart, and each was perched on a metal chimney attached to a home. It was very early, but I doubt that anyone in the entire neighborhood was still asleep after the competition began.

Northern Flicker

Woodpeckers can be challenging neighbors at this time of year, but there are many ways to humanely address any conflicts that arise with these beautiful and interesting birds. If you find yourself being rattled awake by an enthusiastic drummer, I encourage you to visit the Woodpecker page on the PAWS website. It contains a wealth of information about woodpecker behavior, as well as information on common conflicts and their solutions.

Having a wildlife problem? PAWS can help

 

 

Question: When is the best time of year to trim or cut down trees in my yard?

Preserve wildlife habitats in your backyardThe 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 the region. Trees and forests provide critical habitat, cover and nesting sites to these many wild species, from cavity nesting owls, woodpeckers, and native squirrels, to bat dens in tree hollows and a multitude of birds whose amazing nests grace thick limbs and tiny branches alike.

February through September are the most active nesting months for Washington wildlife, when trees will be teaming with life. Please be aware that pruning or cutting down trees during these months can and does displace, harm or 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 is cut down or their nest site is destroyed.

Before cutting down any tree, whether alive or dead, please consider the following information to prevent unnecessary loss of habitat. 

  • Plan tree-cutting projects between November and January, well after nesting season is over.
  • Inspect the tree for active nests before beginning any work.
  • 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 them standing. 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 the PAWS Wildlife Center at 425.412.4040 to find out what steps to take.

Having a wildlife problem? PAWS can help

 

 

Here at PAWS, we like to celebrate victories for the animals, be they big or small. So we're ready to put on our party shoes and pop the bubbly, because this year's World Spay Day 2014 event was a record-breaking success!

Happy Spay Day clients leaving PAWSDuring the month of February, as part of the international World Spay Day campaign, PAWS and other local shelter partners performed an incredible 1,333 low-cost spay and neuter surgeries here in Washington State—breaking last year's amazing record by 310 surgeries!

With 46 clinics and 14 shelter partners participating in World Spay Day last month, pet owners all across the region were able to take advantage of these affordable surgery options for their companion animals.

In total, 892 cats, 425 dogs and 16 rabbits were altered during the month-long event!

This year’s collaborative efforts also helped reach animals in communities with restricted access to low-cost spay/neuter surgery. This was especially true in rural counties, where 100 percent of the World Spay Day surgeries were completed by private clinics. 

"After 19 years of spearheading World Spay Day efforts in the Puget Sound, we're proud to see the continued growth and success of this event each year," says Kay Joubert, Director of Companion Animal Services at PAWS.

"We're excited to collaborate with the veterinary community and our animal welfare colleagues for World Spay Day 2015 next year!" 

Missed Spay Day 2014? Please refer to a list of clinics that offer low-cost spay/neuter surgeries year-round. Please spay and neuter your pets, and encourage friends and family to do the same for their animals!

Thank you for participating in Spay Day 2014!

 

 

The first time Merina Burda held a baby squirrel in her hand, she knew that volunteering would always be an important part of her life. Merina first began working with animals as a volunteer in the baby animal nursery at a wildlife rehabilitation center in Minnesota. She quickly found that she enjoyed caring for these small, defenseless animals, and when she moved to Seattle she put finding a place to volunteer at the top of her to-do list.

Merina_schlu_webWhen Merina discovered PAWS, she originally planned to volunteer as a Cat Room Attendant at PAWS Cat City. But when a staff member found out that Merina worked as a photographer and Creative Director, they suggested she join the web team—a group of volunteers who photograph the animals and write biographies to help show off the animals' personalities. The web team was a perfect way for Merina to combine her love of photography with her compassion for animals.

As a PAWS volunteer, Merina has photographed many different cats, each unique in their own way. One of her favorites was Samantha, a long-term resident at Cat City who could be selective with her friends, but playful and full of personality with people she trusted. Merina loved that Samantha was able to connect with people when they took the time to get to know her.

In the shelter environment, cats like Samantha don't always share the best parts of their personalities with potential adopters. So having someone like Merina, who takes the time to get to know them and share their stories, helps these cats find their forever homes. We're happy to report that Samantha found her perfect match, and is enjoying life with her new family.

Thank you Merina for your time and dedication to PAWS!

To learn more about volunteering at PAWS, visit paws.org

 

 

Sylvester has been waiting patiently since October 25, 2013. That's 132 days, to be exact. For more than three months, this handsome feline has been waiting for his new family to walk through the door. But for a cat as affectionate and playful as Sylvester, why is it taking so long to find his forever home?  

Sylvester needs a home!By nature, cats have a difficult time adapting to new situations, such as moving homes or the addition of new pet or family member. So it comes as no surprise that cats often have trouble adjusting to the shelter lifestyle, and can be shy upon meeting new people.

Since it takes some cats longer than others to come out of their shell, many potential adopters often misjudge these cats as “grumpy” or “anti-social." But that's not necessarily the case! Sometimes they just haven’t had the opportunity to show you their true colors. Like Sylvester.

When he first came to PAWS, Sylvester was timid and shy. PAWS volunteers and staff noticed that he seemed agitated by the other cats, and by all of the visitors. Seeing his distress, one volunteer offered to give Sylvester a "kennel break" and bring him home to stay with her.

The change in Sylvester was extraordinary.

Out of the stressful shelter environment, this once-timid cat blossomed. He's no longer shy, but a confident, affectionate and playful feline.

In his foster home, Sylvester has flourished and shown us what a wonderful companion he truly is. His foster mom is so fond of him, she's compiled an entire flickr full of cute photos and video!

Foster parents like Sylvester’s allow us to give these animals the kind of environment and attention they need to feel safe and secure, which allows them to show us their true personalities. It just goes to show that sometimes, all they really need is a little bit of rest, relaxation and TLC.

If you're interested in learning more about this handsome boy, you can view his full profile here.

Help us find a home for Sylvester!

 

 

Spring is nearly around the corner, and that means one thing here at PAWS—the babies are coming! April through September is considered "baby season" at the PAWS Wildlife Center, when our staff and volunteers have their hands full caring for adorable (and hungry!) baby birds, squirrels, Raccoons, chipmunks, opossums and many more.

Volunteer-feeding-baby-squirrelAccording to volunteer coordinator Frances Boyens, baby robins and sparrows are usually the first to arrive at the PAWS Wildlife Center, and baby season officially ends when the final baby raccoon is strong enough to scamper out the door. Last baby season, the PAWS team even cared for several bear cubs and baby Harbor Seals.

The first few months of life are a tenuous time for newborns in the wild, and most of these young ones come to us injured, orphaned and unable to care for themselves. A great number of babies coming through our doors are the survivors of attacks from cats and dogs, or the unfortunate victims of human interference.

PAWS staff and volunteers spend months meticulously and lovingly rehabilitating them so they can make a successful transition back to their natural habitats. It’s a busy and exciting time, and one of the best times to be a volunteer at PAWS. Volunteers work hands-on with the animals, feeding them and helping nurse them back to health.

“It’s a rewarding and life changing experience,” says one volunteer. “There’s nothing quite like feeding a tiny squirrel, and knowing you’re making the difference between life and death.”

Baby season is only a month away, and we need all the help we can get to ensure that we have the resources to care for these small, defenseless creatures.

“Our volunteers go through orientation and training, ensuring they are able to act with minimal supervision and really take ownership in their work with the animals,” says Boyens.

Help PAWS get baby-season-ready and sign up today!

 

 

Question: A Robin keeps attacking my windows. I'm afraid he will hurt himself. What can I do, and why is he doing that?

American Robins exhibit bizarre window-pecking behaviorThat's a great question! This curious behavior happens every spring. American Robins are very territorial, and once a pair has established their nest site, they will fiercely defend it.

The PAWS Wildlife Center receives many calls from people concerned about Robins attacking or pecking repetitively on their windows—we’ve even heard of Robins attacking the rear-view mirrors of vehicles.

The bizarre behavior occurs when birds see their reflection in windows or mirrors and think it’s another bird trying to take over their territory.  This activity usually continues through the nest-building, hatching and nestling stages.

The window-pecking can last several months, but don’t worry; unlike window strikes, this behavior is rarely dangerous for the birds.

There are several things you can do to deter birds from attacking windows. The main idea is to make window glass non-reflective. Sometimes the whole window needs covering, but primarily near the window sill where the bird will sit and continuously hit the glass. 

  • Cover the window on the outside with screening or netting at least two to three inches from the glass. Make it taut enough to bounce the bird off before they hit the glass.
  • Install external shutters, awnings or sun shades.
  • Apply one-way transparent film.  You can see out and the bird cannot see a reflection (CollidEscape).
  • Wipe a bar of soap on the window.
  • Cover the window with a sheet, newspaper or clear plastic.
  • Hang  Mylar tape, an eye balloon or pinwheels  in front of windows.
  • Apply decals or stickers (only effective when spaced very closely to each other)
  • String up old cd’s.
  • For new home construction, install windows so the glass angles downward and doesn’t reflect the surroundings. 

Having a wildlife problem? PAWS can help

 

 

The Golden Eagle is a fairly rare sight in Western Washington, and is a very rare patient for us to have in care. Although we are occasionally contacted by members of the public who believe they have found an injured Golden Eagle, most turn out to be juvenile Bald Eagles.

The two species can be confusing to the untrained eye, especially when viewed individually, or at a distance. Placing the two side by side makes identifying them a bit easier. Below you can see a juvenile Bald Eagle on the left, and an adult Golden Eagle on the right. Note the slightly smaller beak on the Golden Eagle as well as the lighter, golden feathers on the back of the head and nape of the neck.

Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle

Continue reading "Which Eagle Is It?" »

 

February 7 started off as a good day for this Golden Eagle. She spent the morning feasting on an all-you-can-eat buffet of elk meat from a carcass she had found, and she was about to fly off to find a comfortable perch on which she could sit and digest her meal. Unfortunately, she never made it there.

As the eagle took flight, she passed over the same strip of pavement on which the elk had met his end. Possibly weighed down by a full stomach, the eagle nearly became roadkill herself—she was struck by a truck and instantly grounded. She was retrieved from the roadside by a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife enforcement officer who delivered her to PAWS the next day.

Golden Eagle 140078

Continue reading "A Good Day Turns Bad for a Golden Eagle" »