By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

Welcome to a new segment we, at PAWS, like to call What’s Happening in Washington, where we bring you news about what's happening in our area relating to wildlife—including research, events, and ways you can get involved.

The month of February brings the 18th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). From February 13th to 16th The National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology are asking citizen scientists like you to help them count birds.

Every year the GBBC is conducted all over the world. In 2014, 142,051 participants from 135 countries counted over 17 million birds encompassing 4,300 different species. Pretty impressive!

Participation is easy, open to all age groups, and is a fun family activity. Register online for the GBBC, count birds in your yard for at least 15 minutes on one or more days during the GBBC and then enter your results on the GBBC website. It’s that simple.

You can even explore what others are seeing all over the world and take a look at the bird photographs submitted in real time.

Bird Collage

The data collected from the GBBC gives researchers a snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds all around the world. These counts are then combined with data from other projects to help researchers gain a better understanding of bird biology.

They can gain insight into how weather influences bird populations, changes in bird migrations, how diseases are affecting bird populations and how species diversity has changed.

At PAWS Wildlife Center we feel connected to this project because we receive almost two thousand backyard birds from the Seattle area every year.

Some of the birds you see in your backyard may have even been treated at PAWS (recent patients are pictured, right).

PAWS is happy to be participating in the GBBC this year and will be counting the wild birds living at our Lynnwood campus.

Lets all get outside this weekend, count birds and be citizen scientists! Let's see if we can get Washington in the top ten for the total number of participants in the United States (last year we were #14 with 3,356 participants).

For more information about the GBBC, and to get tips on how to identify bird species, please visit the official GBBC website.

Happy Birding!





Help backyard birds in need. Become a Bird Nursery Caretaker at PAWS.

Make a gift and help us continue providing a safe haven for injured and baby backyard birds.

Interested in a career caring for wild birds? Check out our Avian Wildlife Rehabilitation internship.

By Katherine Spink, PAWS Staff

Robbie Thorson started at PAWS as a volunteer, then progressed to an internship before becoming a Seasonal Assistant Wildlife Rehabilitator last summer.

A college graduate in biology, with a focus on ecology and evolution, Robbie will soon start his second six-month stint as a seasonal assistant rehabilitator. He takes us behind the scenes to reveal more about this vital hands-on role assisting permanent staff at PAWS Wildlife Center.


So Robbie, what does your average day look like?
Although there’s a pattern to each shift—administering meds, feeding, helping with intake exams (pictured right with an Osprey patient), fixing cages, cleaning—every day seems different because of the variety of species we see coming in and their individual needs.

One of the more physical activities seasonal assistants are assigned is cleaning the seabird pools, which involves wearing some super trendy bright yellow personal protective equipment and jumping right in! Not so bad when there are seabirds recuperating, but we also use these pools for Harbor Seal patients—they’re not so house-proud!

We also work with the wildlife center interns, assigning them daily duties, so you get some people management experience as well.

What do you enjoy most about the job?
The thing I love most is the variety it provides—and the opportunity to get hands on with many species that I didn’t have the chance to work with as either a volunteer or intern. From bear cubs to Bobcats, Bald Eagles to Harbor Seals, every day brings a new and fascinating learning experience.

There’s also room for progression here. During my time in college I worked a lot with birds, which is great because we see many birds coming into PAWS Wildlife Center and I can apply my knowledge in a professional setting. But now I also have so much additional knowledge and experience thanks to assisting with the care of mammals, marine mammals, reptiles… whatever comes through the door in need of our help.

Undoubtedly one of the most rewarding things I experience first-hand is the transformation of a wild animal in need of urgent care to a healthy animal ready to go back into the wild. There can be touch and go moments along the way but when it comes to the release day (weeks or months later), you get an amazing buzz knowing you’ve had a part to play in that animal’s rehabilitation and return to its natural habitat.


Robbie (far left) assisting with a raccoon release

Has there been a stand-out experience for you?
In October 2014, we were involved in the rehabilitation and care of a juvenile male Steller Sea Lion, found stranded on a beach in need of help. Caring for this species was a first for PAWS, and a pretty special moment in my time here!

As a seasonal assistant, I was called on to help with the handling of the sea lion—a great privilege. In his early days with us he was very weak and hardly struggled when we were needed to help with feeding or health checks, but just days later it took two or three people to handle him!

A few weeks after his arrival, I helped prepare him for transfer to a marine mammal center in California, where he would continue his rehabilitation with other sea lions. All in all—a pretty amazing experience, and an example of how varied this job can be. One day you’re syringe-feeding baby squirrels, the next you’re assisting with a Steller Sea Lion!

Watch footage of our first ever Steller Sea Lion, and his rehabilitation story, here.

Who would be well-suited to this role?
If you’re interested in wildlife rehabilitation as a career, I’d definitely recommend applying for this position at PAWS. You do hit the ground running when you start, so some prior experience would be helpful. I found it really useful to have started as a volunteer and worked my way up.

PAWS wildlife center is the only rehabilitation center in Washington State equipped with immediate and continual veterinary expertise and services, all in-house. It’s a great place to work, and a fantastic organization to have on your resume.

Think this might just be the right job for you? We’re accepting applications for this seasonal position (April 1-September 30 2015) until Friday, February 13. Find out more and apply today.

Find out more about wildlife rehabilitation at PAWS.
Start your journey towards a career with wildlife. Volunteer at PAWS.
There's another way you can help us continue helping wild animals in need. Donate now.

By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

When it comes to American Black Bears we have a full house at PAWS Wildlife Center with five bears this winter.

Our three oldest bears are being housed under cooler conditions allowing them to rest and “hibernate” which means they essentially decrease their activity and sleep most of the day. This really makes our animal care staff happier because these bears aren’t messing up their enclosures as often!


The littlest bears are our newer patients and were both found wandering alone; too young to survive without mom.

They were captured and brought to PAWS by state wildlife officers for rehabilitation on November 17th and on December 31st.

They were both approximately 20lbs, which is very small for this time of year, and they were thin and anemic on intake.

When the last bear cub arrived she was housed separately for a short time to ensure she was healthy enough to join our other small cub.

After a typical quarantine period the two littlest bears were introduced to each other slowly at first; now every day they grow more attached to one another as they play and sleep together.

While undergoing rehabilitation, it is crucial for young animals to be housed with others of their species (conspecifics). This reduces habituation and boredom. They also learn how to identify, find and compete for natural foods as well as how to behave, communicate and socialize.


This is especially important for young bears as they learn through direct observation and participation with other bears.

Bear cubs would normally learn from their mothers in the wild but as this isn’t an option for our small cubs, housing them together to learn from one another is the next best thing.

These PAWS’ bears will be housed together until their release back into the wild in the springtime, when food is abundant, in the mountains of Washington State.

Check out the video below of them searching for food in their enclosure:

Can't see this video? Watch it on our Vimeo channel instead.

Make a gift and help us continue providing a safe haven for wildlife in need.

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

By Katherine Spink, PAWS Staff

Since they first met in October 2011, Laura and PAWS alumnus Daisy (now Boomer) have been inseparable, and we're hugely thankful that this perfect match came to be. We recently caught up with Laura to find out how life has been since they headed home from PAWS.


What made you decide to adopt from a shelter?
It was never a question for me to adopt from a shelter. I know there are a lot of different opinions on this, but for me it just seemed like the right thing to do.

How did you first find out about Boomer?
My friend was working for PAWS at the time and helping me navigate the adoption process. I came into PAWS one night for the second or third time, with one dog in particular in mind that I was pretty certain I was going to adopt that day. PAWS even 'held' the dog for me for a few hours. But I was a little late and when I arrived at the shelter after work, that dog was being adopted by another family.

I was pretty bummed, but my friend told me that dog had a sister who happened to be visiting that night from her foster home, and took me back to met her. It was Boomer, known as 'Daisy' at the time.

What was it that most attracted you to Boomer?
Honestly, she was a little funny looking and overweight and not feeling well, and just so quiet and sweet. It was love at first sight. I was really certain about what kind of dog I was looking for and she met all my requirements!

How was your adoption experience with PAWS?
It was really great! I had met other dogs up for adoption while I was looking through a couple other private foster agencies, and I found them really hard to work with. When I got to PAWS, it was nice to be trusted and also see how well they take care of their shelter animals. I felt really good about supporting PAWS.


Tell us about your first journey home and how the “settling in” period went.
I came back to pick up Boomer a week or so later, since she needed to be spayed and recover from kennel cough before I could take her home. She was still on pain meds and healing from her surgery when I came in, so she was a little out of it.

My PAWS friend came with me for moral support, which was really awesome because I was pretty nervous. We stopped by the pet store for some basic supplies and then went home to settle in and watch the Seahawks game. She was immediately a BIG Seahawks fan and has been a loyal 12th Dog ever since. Go Hawks!

FYI, Boomer's namesake is Sharon Valerii from Battlestar Galactica—she's a scifi nerd just like me, so it was a natural fit.

What have you experienced together since Boomer came home?
Sometimes Boomer seems like a big dog trapped in a little dog's body. There's not much that she wouldn't do with me—snow camping, hiking, road trips, jogging (watch us on Instagram post-jog), paddle boarding, river tubing, sailing, visiting the farm, watching football—and she's a snuggling BOSS! You name it, she's usually game.


Other times I think she's part cat. She actually sleeps in a cat bed. I've never met a dog who could sleep so many hours of the day! It's not uncommon for me to have to drag her out of bed in the morning.

Every day is a funny moment with this one. But some of my favorites are watching her sunbathe which we call 'Rotisserie Boomer,' (example, right) and when she incessantly nibbles on the covers. I have not been able to figure that one out, but it's hilarious.

How has Boomer changed your life?
I can't even remember my life pre-Boomer. I honestly feel so lucky every day to have her in my life. Every morning I wake up to her burrowed under the covers and then she pops her head out to say hi and have her morning snuggles and play a little.

When we go camping together, she even burrows down to the bottom of my sleeping bag and stays there through the night. I don't even know how she breaths down there but she keeps me warm on cold nights in the woods, and that is definitely life-changing.

Any new year’s resolutions you’re working on together?
Boomer and I have both vowed to get more sleep in 2015. Sometimes the 23 hours she usually gets just doesn't cut it, ya know? The struggle is real.

Laura—thank you for this wonderful update, and for being an animal hero to Boomer. Wishing you both lots of sleep-filled days through 2015 and beyond!

Find your Boomer todayadopt.
Donate now and help us continue providing a safe place for companion animals in need.

By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

2014 was a very busy and successful year at PAWS Wildlife Center. 

New Years Collage

With your help we treated close to 3,500 patients this year (some are pictured right), 400 more than in 2013.

Several were patients rarely seen at the Wildlife Center including a Northern Goshawk (top right), a Wild Turkey, and an Eared Grebe.

We also received several species we had never treated before including a Steller Sea Lion (bottom right), a Guadalupe Fur Seal (second row right), a Greater Yellowlegs, and a Townsend’s Solitaire.

Caring for all of these patients could not have been done without the dedication of more than 300 volunteers, who donate thousands of hours of their time ensuring our patients are in a healthy environment which aids in their recovery.

As we look back at 2014 we must also give thanks to people like you for continuing to support PAWS and our mission to be a champion for animals by helping all animals in need.

As you ring in the new year in the chilly Pacific Northwest, enjoy an inside look below at one of our winter-over patients—a Rufous Hummingbird, feeding in her tropical enclosure awaiting her spring release. 

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

Happy New Year and thank you again for your continued support in 2015!


Found a wild animal? Find out what to do and how PAWS can help.
Make a gift and help us continue providing a safe haven for wildlife in need.

By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

Two special avian patients from PAWS Wildlife Center were returned to the wild last week just in time for the holidays; a Barred Owl and an Anna’s Hummingbird.


The Barred Owl patient (pictured top) was brought to PAWS after having struck a window. She was found on the ground stunned from the impact.

When she arrived at PAWS she was alert but anemic, not eating on her own, had a very high white blood cell count and was not properly digesting her food.

After several weeks of testing and observations our veterinarian team discovered she was suffering from Aspergillosis.

Aspergillosis is an internal infection caused by a fungus and is very hard to treat in birds.

But luckily for this owl, after a couple weeks of intense treatment, she was eating on her own, her white blood cell count was back to normal and she was on her way to being wild once again.

The Anna’s Hummingbird patient (pictured bottom) was brought to PAWS in early December. This little bird was found on a deck unable to fly.

On intake our rehabilitators found she was very weak but flew after sipping up some nectar.

With no other significant findings she was housed in an outside enclosure for several days to regain her strength before release.

Both of these patients were returned to the wild the week of December 15th. They were both released back to their established territories with the help of the people who found them.

Make a gift and help us continue providing a safe haven for wildlife in need.

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

By Katherine Spink, PAWS Staff

As we celebrate the holiday season, we're thankful for the many hundreds of people who have given a PAWS cat or dog their new start in a loving, forever home. People like Gabrielle, who adopted Barnabas in March of this year. 

What made you decide to adopt from a shelter versus purchase from a breeder?
I've always felt very strongly about adopting animals as opposed to purchasing from a breeder. The two dogs that my family owned were, unfortunately, from backyard breeders. Both had severe health issues and it was very difficult for us all.

One of my favorite quotes sums me up well; 'Saving a dog may not change the world, but for that one dog its world changes forever.' I’ve had people tell me I'm not going to make a difference, but for every animal I help save, I make a difference to them. The difference between life and death. 

How did you first hear about Barnabas?
My friend was looking to adopt a dog. She asked me to help look online, and I stumbled across this handsome Pit Bull type dog. I had just lost my previous dog, an 11 year old 170lbs Saint Bernard, to bone cancer. He was the ‘man of the house’ so to speak, and it just seemed incomplete without that once he passed on. The timing was perfect.

Can't see Barnabas playing with his toy? Try watching on YouTube instead.

What was it that most attracted you to him?
I adore Pit Bull type dogs. They have so much love to give, and they get so much hate in return. At first, the thing that attracted me to him was his looks. A solid, but kind faced dog.

When I met him, he was aloof. The volunteer told me that Barnabas had had a lot of visitors, but none clicked. I understood that he didn’t think this meet and greet was going to lead anywhere. It was hailing, he was cold and just wanted to go inside.

When the rest of my family came back that afternoon to finalize his adoption, the look in Barnabas’ eyes when he saw we came back was the saddest and yet most touching thing I had ever saw. He didn’t think I was coming back. I did.

Tell us about your first journey home and how the “settling in” period went.
Barnabas loves car rides, but the journey home was a bit much for him. He clung to me like velcro, I had to sit in the back seat because he was trying to climb up to the front.

Once we got home, he sniffed around a bit and then climbed on his dog bed and slept the whole night. I live right next to a large expanse of woodland area, so I took him for a walk the next morning.

It honestly didn’t take Barnabas very long to settle in. He caught on to the routine very quickly; walks in the morning, followed by breakfast at 8, then a food coma nap, a lunchtime walk, stuffed Kong in the kennel, training and playtime in the afternoon, dinner at 7, bedtime.

I learned that Barnabas does not like kennels. They scare him, so my vet prescribed some anxiety tincture for him to help with that. That has been our largest hurdle. Training has been a breeze, he’s a social butterfly, and welcomes all that come through my door. We are currently working with a Positive Reinforcement trainer to help with his anxiety toward the kennel.

Does Barnabas have any fur friends at home? 
I have Lola, rescued from Seattle Humane Society in August 2012 when she was just 8 weeks old. I’m convinced that her energy could power an entire house, and she is extremely toy and food motivated.

I have to be honest, I was a little nervous about the introduction. Barnabas is an older fellow and Lola is a bit rude when it comes to greeting other dogs. She loves them, she just never learned how to greet them in a polite manner.

The introduction surpassed all of my expectations, in the best way!


Lola didn’t rush at Barnabas, and Barnabas respected Lola’s space when she didn’t want to play. It’s like they knew this was the breaking point, if either dog didn’t get along it wasn’t meant to be.

Well, it sure was meant to be because they act like lovestruck teenagers. Barnabas will seek her out just to lay his head on her shoulder. Lola who, before she met Barnabas, was the world’s worst cuddle and introvert, actually enjoys Barnabas cuddling with her. 

What have you experienced together since Barnabas came home?
Barnabas snores louder than a bear in hibernation. I swear one of these days he’ll shake the house down!

He knows the word ‘Bath’ and if he hears it he'll promptly hide under my bed. I am currently desensitizing him toward the bathroom. We have ‘parties’ in there, where he gets lots of praise and treats, sometimes even a stuffed Kong. That seems to be helping quite a bit.

I have a young nephew who sometimes comes over, and Barnabas is in love. His paperwork said that he lived with a 1 year old toddler, which is around how old my nephew is. Barnabas will groom him, and share his toys with him.

He hates water, and looks like a small hippopotamus when he swims. If Lola, who loves water more than life, jumps in the lake Barnabas will pace and bark until she comes back to shore. He’ll groom her and won’t let her out of his sight after that.

Barnabas loves tortilla chips. He is usually an extremely polite dog, he won’t stare at you while you’re eating, if you leave food on the ground he won’t touch it, but if you have tortilla chips in your hand you better watch out! The first thing to come is the drool. It’s like someone attached a waterfall to his lips. Then comes the small, pitiful whines and the big brown eyes.

Can't see Barnabas taking a treat? Try watching him on YouTube instead.

How has Barnabas changed your life?
In so many ways! He taught me to never lose my patience. I never yell or raise my voice at the dogs, I am a strictly Positive Reinforcement dog trainer, but arguments between humans happen sometimes. These upset Barnabas so much that he’ll climb into my lap and groom me, like he's trying to calm me down. He'll stay there until the argument has passed.

He taught me that no matter how ‘scary’ one looks, a kind heart almost always wins people over. He also taught me that some people are too afraid to see past the intimidating looks, and that that is okay. They aren’t ready. That's just fear. He taught me that cuddles fix everything, especially when you get to cuddle with your two best doggy friends.


How will you celebrate the holidays?
Lola and Barnabas will get a dog friendly but festive dinner, and have gifts to open. Lola unwraps her gifts herself, I'm curious to see if Barnabas will do the same! 

What’s going to be in Barnabas’s Christmas stocking this year?
It's a tradition in my family to hang stockings for everyone. Yes, everyone! I have a stocking made for Lola, and am in the process of sewing Barnabas'.

We stock them with cookies from our local pet shop (the only local one that doesn't sell puppies, I don't want to support that!), and toys.

Barnabas will be getting a dog tag with his name and information on it, because he lost his other one on a hike. Lola is getting a pack of kong squeak tennis balls, her absolute favorite.

Thank you for being an animal hero to Barnabas (and Lola!) Gabrielle—wishing you and all our wonderful adopters a very Happy Holidays, and lots of fun adventures in the years to come!

Find your Barnabas todayadopt.
Donate now and help us continue providing a safe place for companion animals in need.

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…

Found a wild animal?
 Find out what to do and how PAWS can help.
Make a gift and help us continue providing a safe haven for wildlife in need.

By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

 Two very small owls got a lucky break in November when they were brought to The PAWS Wildlife Center for care.


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 are 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 are active during the day and hunt by sight. They have a generalized diet and eat insects, reptiles, birds and small mammals.

They are able to catch birds in mid-air and are known to eat birds that are twice their own size. They have two black patches on the back of their head, which mimic eyes, to ward off predators.

Saw-Whet Owls 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 they were deemed healthy and released back into the wild the week of November 23rd.

Make a gift and help us continue providing a safe haven for wildlife in need.

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.


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.


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.

Found a wild animal?
 Find out what to do and how PAWS can help.
Make a gift and help us continue providing a safe haven for wildlife in need.