276 posts categorized in "Wildlife"


By Caitlin Soden, Wildlife Volunteer Program Manager

I'm so excited to feature Dale Ripley for the first edition of our new Volunteer Spotlight blog series! A retired oceanographic engineer, Dale has been a volunteer at PAWS Wildlife Center for almost three years and he's an invaluable member of our team.

#1 Wildlife, Dale Ripley Sept 16 2014

Feeding squirrels or building new and improved animals enclosures, you never know where you’ll find Dale but you do know he’ll be hard at work while still managing to keep the wildlife staff and volunteers enthralled and entertained by countless stories of his many trips around the world.

I recently sat down with Dale to talk about his experiences as a Wildlife Center volunteer. Here’s what he had to say:

How did come to volunteer for the PAWS Wildlife Center?
I was initially interested in the PAWS Companion Animal Shelter where I could learn about different breeds of dog before I adopted one of my own. I attended a New Volunteer Orientation, learned about the Wildlife Center and that was that.

What was your first impression when you came to the Wildlife Center?
Abject Fear!! As an engineer, I was used to working with tools and instruments and suddenly I was being asked to work with live animals. I remember being a bit overwhelmed by the complexity of it all but the staff reassured me it would all get easier eventually. And it did!

What’s it like to be a Wildlife Center volunteer?
Very rewarding! It’s cliché but true is true. We all come here to help animals. They can’t do it on their own so someone’s got to do it.

What have you learned as a Wildlife Center volunteer that you wish other people knew?
Not every animal you see on the ground needs help and there are a ton of resources out there to help you know when they do. Bottom line… call us here at the Wildlife Center so we can help.

With so many wonderful organizations to choose from why do you continue to support PAWS?
I got hooked my first day!

#1-Wildlife,-Dale-Ripley-Sept-16-2014-(2)

Is there anyone specific that has influenced your decision to continue volunteering?
Everyone! The staff and volunteers at the Wildlife Center are fantastic and easy to work with. Everyone is here for the same reason; we want to help animals. That makes it easy to overlook differences.

How does volunteering at the Wildlife Center make you feel?
AWESOME!

What is the most fun you’ve had at the PAWS Wildlife Center?
Catching squirrels up for release back into the wild. Four adults, 12 squirrels… it was a battle of wits!

What do you do when you aren’t volunteering?
Woodworking, watersports…I used to be a SCUBA diver and now I love to snorkel in Puget Sound.

What might someone be surprised to learn about you?
How old I am! 66!

Thank you for everything you do! Oh, and Dale, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Inspired by Dale? Become a PAWS volunteer today and help keep Washington State wildlife thriving!
No spare time to volunteer? There's another way you can help us continue helping wild animals in need. Donate now.
Find out more about wildlife rehabilitation at PAWS.


By Jen Mannas, Naturalist

Over the past few weeks we have received some special patients at PAWS Wildlife Center, baby Northern Flying Squirrels.

Flying-Squirrel-baby,-WL-blog-Sept-12

You may not even be aware that these fuzzy little creatures live in Washington. They are rarely seen due to being strictly nocturnal and arboreal (they live in trees).

There are two species and two subspecies of flying squirrels found in the United States. The species that inhabits Washington is the Northern Flying Squirrel. This species can be found throughout most of the northern part of North America, Canada and as far east as North Carolina.

The Southern Flying Squirrel can be found in the eastern US and Mexico. The two subspecies of flying squirrel live in the Appalachians and are endangered due to habitat loss.

Flying squirrels don’t actually fly like bats or birds do; instead they are specialized gliders. They are able to glide due to a special membrane that connects their front and back legs.

To get from one tree to another the flying squirrel will launch itself off of a high branch, spread out its limbs and use its legs to steer and its tail as a brake. The average distance a flying squirrel can cover in one glide is 65 feet but they can take long glides of over 250 feet. Pretty impressive don’t you think?

Like other squirrel species, flying squirrels live on a diet of acorns, fruit, buds, sap, insects and bird eggs. But what separates them from the other squirrels is a large portion of their diet is lichens and fungi, making them an important disperser of fungal spores.

Flying-Squirrel-Babies,-FB-Sept-10

Flying squirrels like to nest in spruce, fir, hemlock, and beech maple trees. They use their nests for raising young in the spring and summer and as a den in the winter. Unlike other mammals, flying squirrels do not hibernate in the winter and will even share their nests with their extended family to keep warm.

The flying squirrel babies we have at PAWS came to us after falling from their nests, and are being cared for by our staff in the small mammal nursery. They will be cared for here and released in a few weeks, back to where they came from, in hopes they can be reunited with their family groups.

Flying squirrel fun fact: Flying squirrels have the ability to glide across four-lane highways without touching the ground!

Join us on the frontline of wildlife care and rehabilitation - volunteer at PAWS Wildlife Center.

Make a donation and help us continue providing a safe haven for wildlife at PAWS.


By Jen Mannas, Naturalist

“It was the most touching release I have ever done” said Noeleen Stewart, a PAWS staff member. What started out just being a typical hawk release ended up being an event to remember.

At the end of July a rare patient came through the doors at the Wildlife Center; a Cooper’s hawk chick. The chick was found sitting beside a road, estimated to be just a few weeks old and was a female.

Cooper's Hawk 142164 Intake 07282014 JM

On initial examination by our rehabilitation and veterinarian teams, the chick was found to be in good condition despite some mild dehydration. She spent the first few days in our ward under observation to determine whether she could eat on her own, which she could.

She was then moved to one of our outside enclosures with another Cooper’s hawk. There she spent time taking short flights and strengthening her wings. After 33 days in our care she was deemed ready for release.

After speaking to a researcher from the Falcon Research Group we decided to try and release her where she was found; but first we needed to scout out the area for any hawk activity.

As Noeleen was departing PAWS with the hawk, the researcher arrived near the hawk’s point of origin. He started searching and listening for other Cooper’s hawks, hoping that some of the other fledglings or the parents of this little hawk were still near the nest site. He was in luck. Finally, he heard some Cooper’s hawks amongst the trees and knew he was in the right place.

Shortly thereafter Noeleen arrived with the young hawk; she was outfitted with research leg bands for identification and was quickly released. Within seconds of her flying away one of her siblings joined her and landed in a tree next to her. A few seconds later another sibling joined them and all three could be seen in the same tree calling to each other. It was definitely an experience to remember, watching these three hawks reunited again.

It is always important that we release wildlife close to their point of origin. The animals we receive may already have an established territory or like in this case have family nearby. Thanks to this collaboration a family of hawks was reunited and the Falcon Research Group will be able to monitor the released hawk in the future and let us know if she has a nest of her own someday.

Join us on the frontline of wildlife care and rehabilitation - volunteer at PAWS Wildlife Center.

Make a donation and help us continue providing a safe haven for wildlife at PAWS.

Walk for the animals and help thousands of wild and companion animals receive the care they need at PAWS in the coming year. Join us at PAWSwalk on September 6, 2014.


By Jen Mannas, Naturalist

July 1st marked the arrival of our first Harbor seal pup of the season at PAWS.

This young pup, who was likely abandoned, was rescued from jagged rocks above the tide line in West Seattle. A visitor to the area noticed a small seal pup wedged in the rocks and called the Seal Sitters. After they assessed the pup’s condition from afar and spoke with Biologists at National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) the pup was rescued and brought to us at the Wildlife Center.

141706-Release-KS-edit

On arrival the pup was assessed by our rehabilitators and veterinarian team. He was thin, dehydrated and had minor abrasions on his chin and right front flipper. He spent his first few weeks inside where staff members fed him several times a day.

Once he was big enough, he was moved outside into a pool fit for a seal, with a haul out where he spent time sunning on warm days and foliage for enrichment.

After 54 days in our care and some help from the Coast Guard Auxiliary this pup was released near a known harbor seal haul out. He could be seen swimming amongst other seals on our way back to the harbor.

June through August is seal pupping season in the Seattle area. Throughout the summer and into the fall you may see harbor seal pups on the beach alone. This is completely natural as pups spend time alone while their mothers are away foraging and often these pups do not need help.

Like all marine mammals Harbor seals are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and their protection is managed by the National Marine Fisheries Service, a division of NOAA. If you find a seal pup do not touch it. Doing so can be harmful to the animal and it is illegal as it violates the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

If you believe the pup has been unattended for more than 48 hours, looks injured, or is being harassed by someone call the Marine Mammal Stranding Network at 1-800-853-1964.

Make a donation and help us continue providing a safe haven for wildlife at PAWS.

Walk for the animals and help thousands of wild and companion animals receive the care they need at PAWS in the coming year. Join us at PAWSwalk on September 6, 2014.


By Kellie Benz, PAWS Staff

When you see a vista like the one PAWS staff arrived at yesterday it’s hard to imagine wanting to leave. For the release of a PAWS patient that we've come to know as American Black Bear 2014-1317, we hope she agrees!

Teen-Bear-final-sedation-Aug-27

A wildlife release is the best part of a PAWS patient story, however bittersweet, but always rewarding.

This bear’s homebound journey started the night before when PAWS Veterinarians sedated her for her final exam. Once cleared for departure, PAWS staff performed one last task, a weigh in. Final tally, a healthy 151lbs. Good to go!

Once officers from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) arrived to fetch her, PAWS staff and volunteers carried her to her waiting enclosure (pictured, right). There she would sleep off the sedation medication overnight and be ready for the trip north by morning.

At 10am yesterday, PAWS staff and WDFW officers met along Highway 2 and convoyed into the woods, hauling the now wide awake bear up jagged roads and deep into the landscape she will call home.

The story of her recovery and release aired on KOMO TV 4 last night, and their article was posted with more pictures of the quick seconds it took to release American Black Bear 2014-1317. View their photo gallery here.

Teen-Bear---Dash-Away-Aug-28

It’s been a very busy summer here at PAWS, with many of the now recuperated wildlife being returned to the ecosystem where they belong.

It's thanks to donors and PAWSWalkers that PAWS was able to save this one very lucky bear - as well as all of the animals in our care this summer - and return each to Washington’s gorgeous wilderness.

It's not too late to help us save animals year round, sign up for PAWSwalk today.

American Black Bear 2014-1317 was one of many species who get a second chance thanks to PAWS Donors. Click here and help us help animals.

PAWS Wildlife always needs dedicated volunteers – find out how you can help.

Follow our PAWS Wildlife blog.


By Jen Mannas, Naturalist

It’s baby squirrel season again at the Wildlife Center, and as things are winding down in the baby bird nursery they're picking up in the small mammal nursery.

Eastern-Gray-Squirrel-Sleeping-08212014-web-resize-KS

The center is packed full of baby Eastern Gray Squirrels, a few Douglas Squirrels, and the staff and volunteers who have become their surrogate parents.

This is the second round of baby squirrels this year; the first round was back in April. This is because Gray Squirrels breed twice a year if food availability is high.

Squirrels eat mushrooms, flowers, plant shoots and even caterpillars but their preferred food source is mast. Mast is nuts from forest trees such as oaks, beeches and hickories, that are high in fat calories. This is what you typically see a squirrel busily burying in the ground.

The reason squirrels bury their food is because they do not hibernate like other mammals. Instead, they leave food caches around that they will visit again during the winter months.

Now, you may be wondering, “How in the world do squirrels remember where they hide their food?”. Well, squirrels have a very accurate spatial memory and they use land markers and scent to help them find their buried caches. This also helps with seed dispersal and germination, since the caches the squirrels do not eat will start to grow into trees.

Squirrels try to be very secretive when burying their caches so other animals won’t dig them up. If a squirrel feels like it is being watched it will pretend to bury its food. The squirrel will go through the motions of digging a hole, placing the object, and burying it but instead it will actually hide the food in its mouth to save and bury somewhere else.

Squirrel nests are usually made of leaves and are high up in the trees. When baby squirrels are born their eyes are closed and they are hairless. They typically stay in the nest for six weeks but sometimes they fall or are pushed out; that is the main reason they're brought to us here at PAWS Wildlife Center.

Eastern-Gray-Squirrel-Feeding-08142014-web-resize-KS

The squirrels we currently have are at different stages of development and require food at different increments of time throughout the day. Our staff and volunteers work diligently to help these babies grow into healthy adults so they can be released and become functioning members of their population once again.

Help us on the wildlife rehabilitation frontline. Become a volunteer.

Make a donation and help us continue providing a safe haven for wildlife.

Walk for the animals and help thousands of wild and companion animals receive the care they need at PAWS in the coming year. Sign up for PAWSwalk on September 6, 2014.


By Jen Mannas, Naturalist

You probably know by now that PAWSwalk is our biggest fundraiser of the year. You probably also might think that it only helps PAWS rescue thousands of cats and dogs. But did you know it also helps care for thousands of wild animals too?

Each year, PAWS Wildlife Center cares for over 3,000 wild animals from as many as 260 different species. Our main goal is to rehabilitate sick, orphaned and injured animals so that they can be released and become a functioning member of their wild populations once again. To do that, we rely on the donations raised at PAWSWalk every year.

Wildlife at PAWS - August 2014

Today, we are caring for over 200 patients at PAWS Wildlife Center. This summer alone, we have taken in and helped River Otters, Bald Eagles, American Robins, Virginia Opossums and Eastern Cottontails, a Bobcat, Harbor Seals, Mallard Ducks, Hummingbirds, Raccoons, owls, deer, a frog, weasels, swifts and many many many more. In, fact some of the animals in our care have made the news, and another one has been part of an ongoing story.

All of these animals come to us with different needs; from the food they eat, to the habitat they live in, to the medical attention they need, to the amount of time they will be in our care. PAWSwalk helps us support these needs by providing the funds to purchase food, medication, and medical supplies as well as upkeep facilities so we can continue to help these amazing creatures.

Because of PAWSwalk - and PAWSwalkers like you - we have been able to rehabilitate and release hundreds of animals this summer including River Otters, a Western Screech Owl, grown birds from our baby bird nursery, orphaned opossums and squirrels, a Peregrine Falcon, a Creeping Vole, and a Townsend’s Chipmunk, just to name a few.

With the support from people like you who join in our annual PAWSwalk we are able to continue helping animals of all kinds. So, register for PAWSwalk today and come join us at King County's Marymoor Park in Redmond, WA on September 6th! It’s a great way to have fun and raise money for animals. It will be a wild time!

Want to help care for wildlife at PAWS year round? Volunteer.

Help us to continue providing a safe haven for rehabilitating wildlife - make a donation.


By Jen Mannas, Naturalist

Late summer is a bustling time of year for gulls in the Seattle area and here at PAWS. People are seeing them more readily now and finding injured birds as adult gulls are out gathering food for their hungry chicks.

Gulls are often referred to as seagulls lumping all of the species together. However, there are

actually 19 different species of gulls that live in North America, 14 of which spend part of the year in

Herring Gull sub-adult
Herring Gull - sub-adult

Washington. The term seagull is also very misleading as this suggests they only live near the ocean when in fact many species of gulls live, feed and nest inland. An example of this is the ring billed gull which is very common in eastern Washington.

 

Gulls nest in densely packed colonies and lay their eggs either directly on the ground or in a small nest bowl.The chick’s eyes are open and they are very mobile when they hatch; they are even capable of leaving the nest shortly after hatching. Gulls are very protective parents and will dive bomb potential predators to keep them away from their chicks. If you see healthy chicks that appear to be alone one of their parents is probably nearby watching and it is best to stay away.

Gulls are fantastic fliers and can actually float motionless in the air when looking for food. Gulls can eat just about anything including insects, small fish, other birds and small mammals. They also act as nature’s cleanup crew by scavenging on dead animals and other organic litter which can pose health threats to humans. Gulls are resourceful, smart, and very adaptable. Many species have learned to live and thrive in conjunction with humans, some species have been documented using objects as tools, they have a very complex method of communication and they have a highly developed social structure.

Glaucous Winged Gull chick
Glaucous Winged Gull chick

We have several gulls, from two different species, in our care at the PAWS. They are at different stages of development from very small chicks up to adults. This requires different levels of care from all of our staff and volunteers as they await their return to the wild.

 

Fun Fact: Most adult gulls have a red spot at the tip of their bill, newly hatched chicks use this spot as a target and will peck at it stimulating their parents to feed them.

Want to help care for wildlife at PAWS? Volunteer.

Help us to continue providing a safe haven for rehabilitating wildlife - make a donation.


By Jen Mannas, Naturalist

Leaving home can be scary and a hard thing to do for humans but imagine you are a four week old baby owl (owlets) leaving your nest cavity, high up in a tree, for the first time.

Western-Screech-Owl--141090-070814-JM-(8)-2-web-resize

Owl fledglings are not great fliers at first; for the first five or six weeks out of the nest they hop from branch to branch or take short flights following their parents. During this time owlets can fall to the ground where they stay under a close eye of their parents until they get off of the ground. Sometimes these falls result in an injury and the owlet may not be able to make it back to safety.

This is what happened to a Western Screech Owlet in Redmond. He was found in a driveway by the homeowners one June morning not moving or vocalizing. When he was still in the same spot later that evening they assumed something was wrong. They scooped him up and brought him to PAWS. In our Wildlife Center, he was unable to stand very well and was putting all of his weight on his left leg.

After examining his x-rays PAWS' veterinarian team determined he had a broken right leg. They promptly put a splint on it and placed him under observation to monitor him for any nerve damage in his right foot. After only a few days he was standing on both legs again and could partially flex his right toes. Within two weeks, of his arrival at PAWS, the splint was removed and he was placed in an outdoor enclosure where we continued to monitor his grasping ability.

After 24 more days of cage rest he was able to successfully fly and grasp his perches with both feet. On July 17, at sunset, he was released back to his forest in Redmond where he found safety amongst the trees.

Want to help care for wildlife at PAWS? Volunteer.

Help us to continue providing a safe haven for rehabilitating wildlife - make a donation.


By Jen Mannas, Naturalist

Along with all of the baby birds, here at PAWS we have an array of baby mammals in our care; among them are Virginia opossums.

Most of the baby opossums, or joeys, brought to the Wildlife Center are orphaned as a result of their mothers being hit by cars. Opossums are very primitive mammals that have been around since the time of the dinosaurs and have changed little since then. They are very slow to react to headlights, other animals and even people, because their primitive brains process information very slowly.

DSC_0483-web-resize-KS

When we see opossums we may not immediately think about how unique they are or their ecological importance. They are the only marsupial in the United States and they have a long prehensile tail used for climbing trees and hanging upside down, although they do not sleep in that position.

They have 50 teeth, the most of any land mammal in North America, which they use to eat just about anything from seeds to meat - making them good seed dispersers, great at insect and rodent control, as well as keeping the roadways and sidewalks clean.

They have several anti-predator tactics and, although playing opossum helps them fend off some predators, they also have a super power against snakes. They are partially or totally immune to snake venom and will even kill them for food. They rarely become sick with rabies or other wildlife diseases and, even though they have a small brain, they have a very good memory and a very sensitive nose; enabling them to find and remember where food is.

Since females give birth to such a large number of babies at one time the litters brought to PAWS can be as many as 13 babies. This requires a lot of dedication and care from our staff and volunteers to raise them and release them back into the wild.

Want to help care for wildlife at PAWS? Volunteer.

Help us to continue providing a safe haven for rehabilitating wildlife - make a donation.