317 posts categorized in "Wildlife"

By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

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.  

Black Tailed Deer young

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 Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

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.

Rufous Hummingbird (left) and Barn Owls (right)

Puget Sound Bird Festival in Edmonds (Sept 11-13)

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.

Swift Night Out in Monroe (Sept 12)

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.

Vaux's Swift on wall 082605 KM-edit

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!

We look forward to seeing you there!

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 Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

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 Pigeon 100105 in Ekker Cage, 042910 (2) KM

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. 

Band Tailed Pigeon 04102015 JM (5)

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.

BT Pigeon 040755 release 2 060204 SN29 KM

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. 

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 Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

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 Fledgling_blog 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.

Cliff Swallow Trestle collage Jamie Bails photos
 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.

Violet-green Swallow_glove_smallSimilar 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.

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 Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

What's the sleek medium-sized mammal who roams the forests near streams, rivers and ponds across much of the United States and Canada? It has a glossy fur coat, spends most of its time hunting for food, and has webbed feet...

It's the American Mink.

What you may not know is that American Mink are actually native to Washington and found state wide. Feeding on small mammals and fish, these carnivores are also excellent swimmers and will dive to 16 feet deep!  


Mink are part of the mustelidae, or weasel, family along with River Otters, Badgers, Martens, Ferrets, Wolverines and—of course—Weasels.

In the wild their rich glossy coat is dark brown, and they can be distinguished from other weasels by the white marking on their chin. Weighing just over two pounds, they have small ears and short stubby legs.

Mink are very territorial and will spray intruders with a foul smelling liquid much like skunks. We know, hard to believe looking at the innocent faces of these recent arrivals at PAWS Wildlife Center!


We rarely receive Mink here at PAWS, but this year we're caring for two youngsters.

In mid-May we received a two ounce baby male whose eyes were still closed. He was found lying under a bench on a boat dock in Bellevue. About a month later a female was transferred to us from Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. She was also found alone, too young to survive on her own.


It's extremely important that youngsters in care don't become habituated or too used to people. This can be dangerous for the animal and for humans. To help prevent that, Wolf Hollow and PAWS decided these two mink should grow up together and the female was transferred to us.

Can't see the video above? Try watching on our PAWS Wildlife Vimeo channel. 

The mink have been sharing an enclosure for several weeks now and love to play, hunt, explore and swim. With enrichment provided by our staff and volunteers they are learning skills they will need to survive when they are returned to the wild later this year.


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 Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

As summer moves forward, things at PAWS Wildlife Center are getting busier and busier. We’re currently treating hundreds of patients and releasing them by the dozens every week. Our baby bird nursery is alive with the sounds of hungry chicks, from the pool pad you can hear the splashes of seal pups, and on top of the hill you can hear the rustling of deer fawns exploring.


Currently we’re raising five deer fawns in the seclusion of our deer pen. There are four Columbian Black-tailed Deer (pictured, above) from the west side of the Cascades, and one Mule Deer from the east side; all orphaned. Some were found on the side of the road after their mother was hit by a car while others were found alone, sick and dehydrated.

The first fawn came to us on May 24, right at the beginning of the deer birthing season. He was a small spotted fawn weighing only 7.5 pounds. Just four days later, a small female was transferred to us from Second Chance Wildlife Care Center in Snohomish, WA so they could grow up together and learn from each other.

By July 7, we were at capacity.


It’s very important when raising these deer fawns that they don’t become habituated to humans. To prevent this they’re housed in a large specialized deer pen that includes native plants for them to nibble on and hide in (pictured, above). This stimulates natural behaviors they’ll need to survive in the wild.

As the video below shows, there’s also a specialized bottle rack so we can feed them formula out of sight before they're weaned.

Can't see the video above? Trying watching on our PAWS Wildlife Vimeo channel.

With the traumatic experiences that brought them to PAWS behind them, all five deer are doing well. They move in a herd through their enclosure, exploring and snoozing under cover during the heat of the day.

They'll stay with us until the fall when they'll be strong enough and mature enough to return to the woodlands of Washington.

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 Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

We all know summer in the Pacific Northwest is the best time of year and, with all of the sunny days we’re enjoying right now, people are spending a lot more time outdoors. Not surprising given all the activities there are to offer here in Washington!

If you’re a wildlife lover this a great time of year to tour Western Washington and see a diversity of wildlife. Whether you’re a fan of raptors, waterfowl, amphibians or marine mammals there’s a place to enjoy them all.

Here are a few hot spots filled with wildlife to enjoy:

North Western Washington

Semiahmoo Park and Museum
This is a long sand spit with tidelands, mudflats and sandy beaches near the border of Washington and Canada. Take a short walk along the spit and enjoy marine life including Harbor Seals (pictured below), clams, crabs, seabirds and even a few shore birds.


Whatcom Wildlife Area: Lake Terrell Unit
Just north of Bellingham you’ll find this shallow lake with a peat bog surrounded by forest and grasslands. There are a plethora of wildlife species to enjoy here including river otters, beavers, painted turtles, salamanders, songbirds and waterfowl.

Deception Pass
Although Deception Pass is famous for its picturesque bridge, it’s also a fantastic place to view wildlife. This old growth forest also has a rocky shoreline and several freshwater lakes. There’s an array of marine and bird life to be seen here including sea cucumbers, sea stars, eagles, osprey, owls and deer.

Central Western Washington

Carkeek Park
This 220 acre park located in north Seattle not only has a rocky beach but also deciduous forest, meadows and grassland hosting a plethora of species. Here you can not only see moon snails, acorn barnacles and clams, but also seabirds, songbirds, and some waterfowl.

Discovery Park 
A 534 acre park in Seattle, Discovery Park has a variety of habitats including mixed woodlands, streams, meadows, and rocky beaches. You have the opportunity to see tidal pools with marine life, river otters, mountain beaver and owls, just to name a few.


West Hylebos Wetland Park
Forest Park is home to this 120 acre wetland home to an array of amphibian and reptile species including red legged frogs, northwest salamanders, painted turtles and alligator lizards. Aquatic mammals such as muskrats, minks, weasels and beavers can also be spotted in the riparian streams.

South Western Washington

Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge
Located just east of Olympia this 3,000 acre wildlife refuge is a birder’s dream. It encompasses salt and freshwater marshes, mixed forest, mudflats, riparian zones and woodlands. Raptors, woodpeckers (like the Pileated Woodpecker pictured below), waterfowl, river otters, salmon and deer all call this diversity of habitats home.


Lewis & Clark State Park
Named for the two pioneers of the west this old growth forest park is home to bald eagles, hawks, owls, black bears, coyotes, deer and Douglas squirrels. The park has an interpretive trail that will help you learn about these species and more.

Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge
This wildlife refuge is located in the Columbia River floodplain in southern Washington. Year round you can see waterfowl, raptors, coyotes (pictured below), river otters and herons.


Once you've picked your perfect spot to explore, how do you make the most of your wildlife viewing expedition? Here are some top tips from our experts at PAWS Wildlife Center:

  • Viewing is best at dawn and dusk.
  • Check the tidal phase if going to a marine park. 
  • Observe wildlife from a distance – if they react to your movement you’re too close. 
  • Be patient and move slowly and quietly. 
  • Use field guides to learn about wildlife. 
  • Be considerate while you're a guest in our wild neighbors' home – don't feed, touch, approach, or chase wildlife.

Enjoy this summer and the habitats and wildlife Washington has to offer! 

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 Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

Summer is in full swing in the Seattle area and that means Harbor Seals are having their pups. You may have already started seeing adults more often in the water and snoozing on the beach.

Chubby Harbor Seal females haul out and give birth to one pup during the summer along the coast. They then nurse their pup for an average of 24 days, during which time pups gain between 1.1 and 1.3 pounds per day. They're able to gain so much weight due to the high fat content of the female’s milk.


Pictured: our first Harbor Seal pup of the season, read on for his rescue story

As you can imagine, this takes a lot of time and energy from the female, who cares for her pup by herself. To keep up with the demands of her hungry pup, during the nursing period, females must leave their babies alone on the beach for hours at a time to forage. During this time pups sleep on the beach awaiting their mothers’ return. This is typically when people see baby seals alone on the beach.

Harbor seals, like every other marine mammal, are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act which prohibits approaching, touching and harassing them at any time. You can, however, quietly observe them from 100 yards away.

Fourth of July is a particularly difficult time of year for seals, with fireworks and beach parties causing pups to be abandoned every year. Check out this blog by Seal Sitters for advice on celebrating responsibly.

If you believe you've found an injured adult—or a pup who's been unattended by its mother for more than 48 hours—contact Sno-King Marine Mammal Response at 206.695.2277 or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Seal Hotline at 1.866.767.6114.

Sometimes Harbor Seal pups are deemed abandoned by NOAA Fisheries and brought to local wildlife centers for rehabilitation. PAWS Wildlife Center is one of two centers in Washington state permitted to take in seals.

We just received our first Harbor Seal pup of the season on June 26th. This male pup (pictured below) was seen alone trying to crawl up a cement pillar offshore, which is no place for a seal pup.


Image kindly provided by Robin Lindsey, Seal Sitters

As soon as the frightened seal pup was reported to Seal Sitters Marine Mammal Stranding Network they responded right away, erecting a large tape perimeter to keep people away as they watched for any signs of mom.

They kept a close eye on the pup for over 24 hours and yet no mom appeared. Due to the very public location of this pup in Lincoln Park, NOAA deemed him a candidate for rehabilitation and he was transported to PAWS.


On arrival he had a few puncture wounds on his head and tail, he weighed just over 18 pounds, and was pretty hungry (intake examination pictured above). His wounds were cleaned and he was given fluids to stabilize him for the night.

Currently he is doing well and adjusting to the outside pool where he spends his days, swimming, sunning, and snoozing.

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 Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

When you think about ducks or waterfowl the first duck that comes to mind is probably your run-of-the-mill mallard; the most commonly seen ducks in the United States. However there are over 25 different species of ducks in the U.S. and they are all quite unique.

Some of the more magnificent looking are the mergansers or saw-billed ducks.

Mergansers are diving waterfowl who feed on an array of small to medium sized fish they catch under water. They are sometimes called saw-billed because their bill is narrow, long, serrated and has a hooked tip adapted for catching fish.

There are three species of mergansers found across the United States which also reside right here in Washington. Already this summer PAWS Wildlife Center has cared for two of these species.

Hooded Merganser – the North American endemic
Hooded Mergansers are the smallest merganser and their range is restricted to North America. During the breeding season hooded drakes are easily distinguishable because of their striking black and white head (pictured below).


Females nest in tree cavities and are known to lay eggs in nests that don’t belong to them. Their ducklings leap from the nest high above the ground when they are just one day old.

Hooded Mergansers have been studied for over 40 years and have helped researchers understand how acid precipitation influences ecosystem processes, providing evidence of the build-up of chemical contaminants in different habitats.

Red-breasted Merganser – the swift world traveler
Red-breasted Mergansers (ducklings pictured below during rehab at PAWS) are a large merganser with a shaggy crest. Drakes have a white ring around their neck, an iridescent green head and orange bill during the breeding season.


They prefer a more marine habitat, nest on the ground and migrate further than the other merganser species found in North America.

They are also the fasted duck ever recorded and can attain a top airspeed of 100 mph!

Common Merganser – the not so common merganser
Despite their name Common Mergansers (pictured below) are not quite so common; during most of the year they spend their time on the open water. During the breeding season drakes are snowy white with a very dark green head and reddish-orange bill.


Females nest in tree cavities up to 100 feet above the ground and their ducklings leap from the nest when they are one day old. Females will protect their ducklings but they find all their own food.

PAWS Wildlife Center recently released four juvenile Hooded Mergansers that we received as small ducklings. They were found alone in a storm drain in Woodinville. After 36 days in our care they were returned back to the wild among other ducks - and, judging by the speed they left their carrier (video below), were very happy to be home!

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

Currently we are caring for a lone Hooded Merganser and five Red-breasted Mergansers. The Hooded Merganser was found alone and too young to survive on his own and the Red-breasted were found alone running in the road.

After just a few more weeks in our care all six of these magnificent mergansers will be released back to the wild to frolic with other ducks their own age.

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 Sean Twohy, PAWS Wildlife Center Volunteer

Making wild animals a part of your life can be a rewarding and gratifying experience!

The act of watching birds build a nest or seeing salmon in a stream can provide a sense of connectedness to the world around us – and a welcome break from the day-to-day grind of working in an office (or daily life in a bustling city like Seattle!).

Even more, these interactions lead to a sense of responsibility and community toward the other creatures who share our space. So, how can you make the most of your wildlife watching?

Here are some things to consider:

Keep a safe distance
Keeping enough space between you and wildlife ensures that whatever you’re watching can continue its natural behavior without feeling threatened or disturbed enough to flee.


Perhaps most importantly, by keeping a respectful distance you will reduce the likelihood of that wild animal becoming habituated to human presence – something that could negatively impact its survival. While there's no set standard, if the animal you’re watching becomes agitated or changes its behavior, you’re probably too close.

Don’t feed your wild neighbors
This can happen accidentally (through leaving garbage bins open or pet food outside) or on purpose; either way, it’s generally best to leave wild animals to find their own food to avoid some of the following problems:

  • The animals start to rely on a food source that may disappear (when you go on vacation)
  • The animals may lose their fear of people (which can disrupt an otherwise peaceful coexistence between wildlife and humans in a particular area or neighborhood)
  • Feeding wildlife can have unforeseen consequences on the environment (did you know that—as well as being unhealthy for them—bread left behind by ducks causes spikes in algae and harmful bacteria, which can kill off fish and make the water dangerous for swimmers?)


Keep pets away – ideally inside!
Even the most placid and sweet-natured of pets can pose a risk to wildlife (did you know that cats are the number one killer of suburban birds?), and wildlife injuring or even killing our pets can be a distressing fact of life for many living here in the Pacific Northwest.

To enjoy wildlife on your own doorstep, be sure that any pets kept outside are safely enclosed in your yard at all times, and brought in at night. Better still—for cat owners—consider transitioning your feline friend from an outdoor to an indoor lifestyle.


Provide a natural backyard habitat
While a large green lawn has been the standard of American tradition for some time, it’s not the most enriching environment for wildlife.

If you’d like to have more wild neighbors coming to visit, consider planting borders of native flowers and foliage, don’t sweep up those fallen leaves quite so often, and maximize any sources of moisture such as water features or streams.


Trees (even dead ones) and native foliage will give birds, bats and other creatures many a useful nesting, resting or hiding spot!

Last but not least… be aware! You’re often closer than you think to a wide variety of wildlife. Keep your eyes and ears open to everything around you, and the animal’s well-being at the forefront of your mind, and your experience with it can be a great one.

Found a wild animal you think needs help? Learn how PAWS can help.

Want to find out more about interacting with wildlife? Read our do's and don'ts online guidance.

Interested in a career in wildlife rehabilitation? Check out internship/externship opportunities at PAWS.