By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

We are currently caring for more than 100 young birds at PAWS Wildlife Center, many of which start out in our Baby Bird Nursery. However, there are some birds who never stretch their wings in the nursery.

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Baby Barn Owls


Baby raptors who come to PAWS for care are treated differently from songbirds and other species. Because raptors are with their parents for a lot longer than songbirds and can be easily habituated to people when they are young, we try to reunite them with their parents when we can. Unfortunately, that is not always possible and in these cases they are raised at PAWS.

Like other wildlife we treat, we receive raptors at different stages of development. Some are hatchlings that are just a day or two old, while others are fledglings who left their nest too early and find themselves in harm’s way. Some youngsters get knocked out of their nest by their siblings or a predator, resulting in an injury.

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Baby Barred Owl


Currently we are caring for eight young raptors—four Barn Owls, three Barred Owls and a Peregrine Falcon. The youngsters are housed with others of their species if we have more than one. This is very important for their development, as they learn valuable behavioral and social skills from each other which helps them survive in the wild.

Our Peregrine Falcon patient is only scheduled for a short stay with us. He fledged a little too early and is not able to fly just yet. Once his primary feathers are long enough, he will be returned to his nest site to be reunited with his family with the help of the Falcon Research Group. He will then start learning to hunt with his siblings as his parents stay nearby providing food from time to time.

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Baby Peregrine Falcon


Our owl patients, however, will stay in our care until they are old enough to return to the wild. Until that time, they will spend their days taking short flights in their enclosures slowly learning to fly. Before they are deemed ready for release, we will ensure that they can catch live prey, which is the most important skill they need to survive on their own.

Once they are ready, they will be taken to a suitable habitat near where they were originally found because it will fulfill all of the requirements that will allow them to be successful in the wild.

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Barn Owl


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 Melissa Moore, Education Programs Manager

With Memorial Day behind us, it seems that summer might finally have arrived.

The education team at PAWS are busy preparing for a new early childhood program for children aged three to five years, scheduling scout badge classes, as well as getting ready for community education classes and outreach events. With our eyes on our computers and our bags packed full of brochures and craft supplies, it can be easy to lose sight of what’s happening outside our window.

Summer means sunshine and playing outdoors, barbeques and baseball, beaches or backpacking. It can be a time of family gatherings and vacations. As you make plans for the upcoming season, I encourage you to not only get outside, but to take a child with you. Introduce them to the beauty in nature and make time to go exploring with them.

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A female Rufous Hummingbird at a Salmonberry flower


Rachel Carson
, groundbreaking author of Silent Spring (1962) said, “If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.” 

We all spend too much time in front of electronic screens, interacting with keyboards. It would be good for us to get outdoors. Time spent outdoors can help counteract some current childhood issues like obesity and decreased attention span. In adults, time outdoors has even been linked with increased creativity and improved moods.

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Perhaps the most important reason to get outdoors is to observe the wonders of the natural world and to better understand the beings that live around us.  

This morning, as I took my dogs outside before work, I saw a beautiful (and tiny) flash of yellow and red in the trees outside of my house. A brilliant little bird glanced my way briefly, then zipped into the trees and a loud chorus of chirping played for several seconds where he disappeared.

A moment later the chorus stopped and the little bird was back on his tree limb. Right there, above my head, a Western Tanager had fed his nest of babies!

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Western Tanager


A family of birds was going about their lives, raising their children, and probably enjoying the sunshine as much as I was. I felt as though I had shared a short moment with this beautiful creature, and you can bet I’ll be watching for him and his brood every morning from now on!

As I entered the reality of my day, I also realized that it’s moments like this that motivate every youth education program that I present. At PAWS we strive to help children experience moments of connectedness with other beings. These moments are the seeds of empathy, the ability to understand the world through another animal’s eyes. Empathy leads to kindness and compassion, “helping behaviors” in the words of psychologists.

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Great Blue Heron


I think Rachel Carson may have had this in mind when she wrote, ”The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” 

We couldn’t agree more, and hope to see you outdoors this summer!

Sources:
ChildrenandNature.org
Conserving Land; Preserving Human Health by Howard Frumkin, M.D., and Richard Louv
Psychology Today

By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

As spring turns into summer, things are really picking up at PAWS Wildlife Center. With over 200 patients currently being treated and over 140 released in May, our staff and volunteers are extremely busy preparing diets, cleaning and treating patients. This is the time of year when we start to get in more baby birds, specifically corvids; we currently have 10 youngsters.

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Corvidae is a family of larger passerines (songbirds) that includes crows, ravens, jays, nutcrackers, and magpies. The most common species in this family in the Seattle area are American Crows and Steller’s Jays.

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Corvids may seem like run-of-the-mill birds, but when it comes to intelligence they are at the top of their class. Corvids are considered to not only be the most intelligent birds but also some of the most intelligent animals in the world. They demonstrate self-awareness and tool making abilities, and crows can even recognize individual human faces. They have the ability to adapt quickly to changing circumstances, which has allowed them to successfully live among humans in more urban settings.

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A corvid species that we frequently receive at PAWS is the Steller’s Jay. Each year we care for a mix of adults and babies, and already this year we have received over 20.

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Named after naturalist Georg Steller, they are sometimes called Blue Jays, although they are quite different from their eastern cousins. They do indeed have a blue body, but their head is black with a triangular crest. They also do not have white markings on their wings and tail like Blue Jays have.

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Here is some more information about this common Western Washington corvid.

Species Info:

  • Wingspan is 17.3 inches and weight ranges from 3.5 to 4.9 ounces.
  • Nest in conifer trees.
  • Clutch size is two to six eggs.
  • Generalist foragers, eating insects, nuts, berries, eggs, small animals and nestlings.
  • Very social and vocal.
  • Frequently can be seen hopping around.

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Cool Facts:

  • Steller’s Jays use mud to build their nests.
  • They will rob other birds’ nests.
  • They are an excellent mimics; they can imitate the sounds of other birds, squirrels, cats, dogs, chickens and some mechanical objects.
  • The oldest recorded Steller’s Jay on record was at least 16 years old.

By JaneA Kelley, PAWS Staff

June is Adopt-a-Cat Month, and for good reason: It’s “kitten season,” and those little cuties are overrunning shelters all across the country. Unfortunately, although it’s a great time for kittens to find their forever homes, it’s not so good for adult and senior cats, who are often overlooked in the face of all that cuteness.

However, there are plenty of reasons to consider walking past all those squeaking, pouncing fuzzballs and finding a furry friend among the more mature cats in a shelter.

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Senior cat Frenchy, now named Mlle. la Chatte, was adopted four years ago. She's still happy and healthy.


First, “senior” really isn’t that old. Here at PAWS we consider cats to be seniors at age 7, but a well-cared-for indoor cat can live into her late teens. PAWS alumna Frenchy, now named Mademoiselle la Chatte, was adopted in 2012 at the age of 10. The latest reports from her adopter indicate that she’s still in great health and enjoying her life in her new home. There’s no reason to fear that a senior cat is too old to enjoy years of happiness with you.

Senior cats are well past the “adorably cute tornado” stage of development, in which kittens learn about their environment by climbing, scratching, chewing and getting into things they shouldn’t. If you’re looking for a mellow companion to sit with you while you read, watch TV or meditate, a senior could be just the cat for you.

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Ten-year-old Dr. Dre is looking for his forever home.


Older cats have generally known a life in a home and they’re familiar with having doting humans and warm beds all to themselves, so the shelter can be kind of a shock to them. Senior kitties will be especially glad to have a family of their own again, and they’ll show it with cuddles and purrs.

Senior cats’ personalities are fully formed, so you know what you’re getting before you adopt. It’s hard to know whether that tiny kitten is going to turn into a calm and quiet “lap fungus” or an extroverted, active and independent cat who needs to play for hours on end. With older cats, shelter staff can confidently guide you toward feline friends that are a good match for your family and lifestyle.

Gigi
Fourteen-year-old Gig was adopted last week.


If you adopt an older cat and sometime in the future you do decide that you’d like to adopt a kitten, an older cat who’s already a member of your household can offer feline-style guidance on how to behave and respond to life in your home.

Older adult cats may be a better choice for families with children because they tend to be more patient with grabby little hands – although you should still supervise your children when they’re playing with the cat to make sure there are no unfortunate accidents.

Softy
Softy, age 11, is looking for a lap to call her own.


We’re delighted when any cat, no matter their age, finds a forever home, but the next time you want to adopt a cat, please consider visiting with the older cats, too. You may just find a feline friend who will be your loving companion for many years to come.

 

Interested in meeting some senior kitties? Check out our Available Pets page.

Want to know about the adoption process? Visit our Adopt page.

By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

During the first week of May, with the help of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) Karelian bear dog team and black bear biologists, we said goodbye to our nine American Black Bears who wintered over at PAWS Wildlife Center.

You may remember that we received nine bear cubs between August and January. All were from different areas in Washington but all were in the same predicament—orphaned and too young to survive on their own.

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It has been several years since we have had this many black bear cubs at one time at PAWS, and our rehabilitation staff worked hard all winter long, spending hours each day cleaning, feeding and preparing enrichment items for them.

As for the bears, they spent a lot of their winter sleeping together in a big black tub, play fighting, searching their enclosures for food and lounging on hammocks specially made by the Boy Scouts.

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On the morning of May 2, WDFW bear biologists and several of the Karelian Bear Dog officers arrived at PAWS to help us anesthetize the first group of bears for their pre-release exams, to take measurements, and to place them in the culvert traps they would be released from high up in the Cascades. Five bears were to be released on May 3 and the remaining four on May 4.

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On the morning of May 3, PAWS joined a caravan of four WDFW trucks to take the first five bears to their release site. We were also joined by three additional officers and their Karelian bear dogs.

In Washington, black bear releases are conducted using Karelian Bear Dogs who are specially trained to work with bears. They scare and chase the bears as they leave the trap. This is one more reminder that humans are bad and that they should stay away.

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These releases are also a useful training tool for newcomers to the Karelian bear dog team like Jax, who is just over a year old. Jax is normally stationed near Spokane but made the trip to western Washington with his officer to not only watch the adult dogs work but to join them. The May 4 release was the first release during which Jax was let off of his leash and able to run with the seasoned bear dogs. It was a special day for Officer Keith Kirsch, who has had Jax and has been training him since he was only a few months old.

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The bears were released one culvert trap at a time, and within 10 minutes they had all disappeared into the wilderness. Our job for the day, however, was not quite complete. We returned to PAWS to conduct pre-release exams on the remaining four bears and get them settled into culvert traps for their release the following morning.

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By 11 a.m. on May 4, all nine bears were back in the wild to once again be functioning members of the Washington black bear population.

This video was taken during the bear release. In it, you can hear the Karelian Bear Dogs in the background. If you can't see it here, you can watch it on YouTube.

 

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 Kate Marcussen, Community Outreach Educator

Summer is almost upon us. We’re eagerly awaiting the warm sun beaming down on our skin, the breeze blowing through our hair, and the smells of summer. You know who else is eagerly awaiting this? Your cat.

Catio cats lounging sun

Our feline friends appreciate the great outdoors almost as much as we do. But for these furry friends, the outdoors can bring more danger than pleasure. The average lifespan of an outdoor cat is only two to three years, whereas indoor-only cats can live 15 to 20 years. Outdoor cats face dangers that include traffic, poison, disease, and run-ins with other animals. High veterinary bills for treatment can also cause stress on households.

Keeping our cats inside not only provides them with a long, healthy and happy life, but it also helps our wildlife. Cats pose a major threat to wildlife as these super-predators, well fed, rested and cared for, can be responsible for countless injuries and deaths of birds and small mammals. Our wildlife hospital at PAWS receives many patients suffering from cat attack injuries each year.

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Baby birds are one example of wild patients often brought to PAWS as a result of a cat attack.


Catios, or enclosed outdoor patios for cats, can offer a safe solution for cats and wildlife and are ultimately a great way to provide your cat with safe outdoor time. The addition of a catio to your property can provide fresh air, exercise and endless opportunities for your cat to soak up the sun, as well as enjoy birds and wildlife from a safe distance. Catios can come in all shapes and sizes, from simple window boxes, to elaborate free-standing shelters with tunnels leading from the house safely out to the catio.

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Catio tour outdoor enclosure

Interested in seeing a catio in person? Join PAWS for our annual Catio Tour Seattle on Saturday, May 21, from noon to 4 p.m. Eleven catios around the Seattle area will be open to meet some cat-loving homeowners and their lucky felines, and tour their catio up close. Hear firsthand their inspiration for building a catio and their unique approaches to building the right catio for their cat, home and budget. Let the cats do the talking when it comes to showing off their prime feline real estate and all of the pleasures of the outdoors that it provides them.

Catio tour poster graphic

Catio Tour Seattle will feature catios from Bothell to West Seattle. Visit one or all 11 catios. To register for this year’s tour, visit the Catio Tour Seattle website.

By JaneA Kelley, PAWS Staff

Pets can be great for children: Not only do they help kids to learn about empathy and compassion, but they teach responsibility as well. Studies have even shown that pets can help children to be healthier by strengthening the immune system.

April 26 is National Kids and Pets Day, which makes it a great time to share some tips to help kids live together happily with dogs and cats.

Fuji and Gala the cats with their new family
PAWS cats Fuji and Gala went to a forever home with a small child.

 

  1. Children under the age of five should never be left alone with a dog or cat. At this young age, they are still learning how to interact properly with pets, and they need your attention and guidance to do so.
  2. Teach your children about cats’ and dogs’ body language. This will help them to understand your dog or cat and avoid accidents or injuries. There are some great pictorial guides available on the internet so kids who are still learning to read can get to know things like the signs of stress or relaxation.
  3. Teach your children to “be gentle with the dog” or “be gentle with the kitty.” That is, no tail-pulling, no chasing or grabbing.
  4. Don’t allow your child to grab a dog’s or cat’s toys away or disturb him while he’s asleep.
  5. Use a baby gate to separate your dog and your young children when your dog is eating. A baby gate can also give your cat a “safe room” if she wants to get away from the kids for a while.
  6. Make sure your cat has plenty of high places where she can observe children without being in their immediate reach.
Goose with his new family
PAWS dog Goose went to a forever family with a number of kids.


Our animal behavior lead at PAWS, Rachel Bird, offers this advice on how to get kids involved with caring for their animal companions.

  1. Let them help with feeding your dog or cat. “Feeding animals helps in the ‘bonding’ process,” Rachel says. “Animals really respond to the person giving them food! I like to mix it up at home, and I will rotate between my children to give them all a chance to feed everyone or hand out treats.”
  2. Let children play with cats using a laser pointer or wand toys. This allows the child to be a safe distance from the cat in order to avoid accidental scratches or bites, and both are having fun.
  3. Children benefit from getting involved in obedience classes for dogs. “Usually, kids love to learn how to teach a dog new tricks,” Rachel says, “so it’s just a matter of teaching him how to teach them.”
  4. Older children can take your dog for walks or clean litter boxes. These chores teach children about some of the responsibilities involved in having an animal companion, and will make them better pet guardians when they become adults.

How have you helped your children learn how to care for your dog or cat? Please take a moment to share your thoughts in the comments.

 

Find out more about companion animal behavior and welfare in our online resource library.

Thinking of introducing a new companion to your household? See who’s waiting to meet you at PAWS!

Fostering a dog or cat can be a great way to see if you’re ready to introduce a new furry friend to your home. Find out more about our foster care program.

By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

The baby season has officially started at PAWS Wildlife Center. We have already received and released two Anna’s Hummingbird fledglings and we are currently caring for 40 Mallard ducklings, three raccoon kits, a killdeer chick and four hatchling Dark-eyed Juncos, just to name a few.

Killdeer chick
Killdeer chick


Baby season, which typically lasts from March through August, is the busiest time at PAWS. During this time we care for over 3,000 orphaned and injured wild animals, 2,000 of which are babies; our rehabilitator staff doubles, with seasonal rehabbers joining the team; the number of volunteers doubles; we have visiting veterinarian students; and our 12 or so interns will be starting soon.

Baby season kicked off this year on March 16 with the arrival of a five-pound baby black bear. She was kidnapped from her den and although state wildlife officers attempted to reunite her with her mother it was too late; the mother had moved on after being disturbed at her den site.

Baby Anna's Hummingbirds being fed
Two baby Anna's Hummingbirds being fed at PAWS Wildlife Center


This is the tenth bear in our care and she is secluded from the other nine who are roughly 10 times her size. Currently she is about the size of a toddler, has brown fur and a prominent white blaze on her chest that looks something like a bib.

Despite being on her own, she keeps herself quite busy exploring her enclosure to find treasures the rehabilitation team has hidden for her. These can be anything from stuffed toys hiding in a pine tree to a bowling ball in her “dogloo.” Recently she even had a hula hoop hanging from the ceiling, which she spent time twirling around with her feet and biting. All of these items serve as enrichment to keep her mind stimulated, and even though she doesn’t know it, they also call upon her natural instincts to act like a bear.

American Black Bear playing with enrichment items at PAWS Wildlife Center
A baby American Black Bear plays with enrichment items in her enclosure at PAWS Wildlife Center.


This little bear will be spending more than a year with us. Hopefully she will soon have a companion that is closer in size, but until then the stuffed toys are a good substitute.

 

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 Katie Amrhein, Community Outreach Educator

In the middle of a PAWS education program, an 8-year-old boy walked up to me, reached into his pocket, pulled out a $10 bill, and quietly said, “I want to give this to PAWS to help the animals.” This moment, and countless others like it when children are moved to take action to help animals, is the reason I teach. A better world for animals and people starts today, with you and me, and carries into tomorrow, with the next generation of youth.

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Frances Moore Lappé once said, “Every choice we make can be a celebration of the world we want.” When a child makes a choice that celebrates a better world for animals, they are doing so from a place of empathy and compassion. In order to feel driven to help animals, children first need to learn about, understand, and feel connected to animals through positive relationships and interactions. And so, through games, art, stories, sharing, and problem-solving, I teach.

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I teach children that crows are incredibly intelligent. I teach children how to understand the ways dogs communicate with us through their bodies. I teach children that raccoons have adaptations that help them survive in our ever-changing urban ecosystems. I teach children what it means to be a responsible pet guardian. I teach children that cows have the same basic needs as rabbits.

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I teach children that each and every one of their actions, everything from recycling to talking to their parents about getting a microchip for their cat, has an impact, and they can choose actions that celebrate a better world for animals. I teach children to care, not by forcing it upon them, but by providing space for them to connect to animals and choose to care.

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And so, when an 8-year-old boy walks up to me and says that he wants to donate $10 to help the animals at PAWS, I know that he has learned that animals deserve a better world, and that starts today, with you and me, and carries into tomorrow, with him.

PAWS is people helping animals. The people that will be helping animals tomorrow are the youth of today. And so, I teach.

By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

Spring is breeding season for most wildlife species that live in Washington, and this is not lost on Bald Eagles. The beginning of April is when the first eaglets hatch in Western Washington.

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Adults start competing for territory and building nests during the winter. This is a crucial time for individuals, as they need to be healthy and strong to defend their territory against other eagles. Unfortunately for some, these territory disputes don’t end happily.

Currently we are treating an adult male Bald Eagle at PAWS Wildlife Center who was brought to us in early March. He is suffering from a large soft tissue wound just above his bill that is very deep and thought to have been the result of a territorial dispute he did not win. For several days he was seen on a beach unable to fly very well before being caught and brought to PAWS for medical treatment. He is currently being housed in our large flight pen to build his wing strength back up, undergoing rounds of weekly wound management, and is on antibiotics to ward off infection.

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We are also currently treating a second Bald Eagle who may have been hit by a vehicle, resulting in a broken right wing. He too is going through weekly rounds of wound management and on antibiotics.

As our two eagle patients regain their strength and continue to heal let me introduce you to the Bald Eagle.

Species Info:

  • Large raptor with a heavy body, large head and long hooked bill.
  • Immature Bald Eagles are all brown and their heads and tails are not completely white until they are 4 to 6 years old.

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  • Wingspan is 6.6 feet and weighs 6.5 to 13 pounds.
  • Nests in trees and on cliff sides.
  • Clutch size is one to three eggs.
  • Carnivorous bird eating fish, birds, reptiles, invertebrates and carrion.
  • Powerful flier, soaring, gliding, and flapping over long distances.
  • Typically solitary but will congregate by the hundreds at communal roosts and feeding sites.

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Cool Facts:

  • Rather than hunting their own fish, Bald Eagles will often harass ospreys until they drop their prey.
  • The largest Bald Eagle nest was almost 9 feet in diameter and 18 feet tall.
  • Immature Bald Eagles spend their first four years exploring vast territories and can fly hundreds of miles per day.
  • Bald Eagles are known to play with inanimate objects such as plastic bottles and sticks. One observer watched as six Bald Eagles passed sticks to each other in midair.
  • The oldest recorded Bald Eagle on record was at least 38 years old.

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