291 posts categorized in "Wildlife"


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!

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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.

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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.


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By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

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

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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.

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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.


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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…


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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.

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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.


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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.

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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.

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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.


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 Find out what to do and how PAWS can help.
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By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

The end of October marked the release of some special spring patients from PAWS Wildlife Center. Five River Otters, who staff had been caring for since May, were finally old enough to fend for themselves and survive on their own in the wild.

When they came to us back in the spring they weighed two pounds and were only a few weeks old. Three of them were siblings whose mother had been killed by a trapper and the other two were found orphaned and alone.

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The five pups were introduced to each other and housed together where they played and romped around like wild River Otter babies should. They were given enrichment items and experiences to stimulate natural feeding behaviors, a large pool to swim and dive in, and they were monitored remotely by our rehabilitators to ensure they were growing, behaving and socializing normally.

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And that they were!

By the end of August their behavior and size demanded that we needed to split them up into two groups. This gave them more room to romp and ensured they did not become food aggressive with each other. The three siblings were kept together and the other two were moved to another enclosure where they awaited release.

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By mid-October it was apparent that these, once little, otter pups had grown into sleek sub-adults and were ready to face the wild on their own.

PAWS collaborated with the King County Parks Department to research and choose very suitable release sites for both groups. The group of two otters was released on October 20, and the three siblings were released on October 28.

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Seeing these otters experience Puget Sound for the first time was quite an event. Staff and volunteers looked on as they explored their new home; sniffing and feeling the rocks, rolling in the incoming waves and running along the beach in unison. They were obviously excited to be released into their natural habitat.

We wish them luck and were so happy to see them back in the wild where they belong.

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By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

The beginning of November marks one of the biggest releases of the year at PAWS Wildlife Center, our Black-tailed deer release.

This year we cared for five deer throughout the spring and summer who all came to us in May as spotted fawns (pictured below, with ear tags used to identify individuals). These youngsters were all assumed to be orphaned as some were seen alone for more than 24 hours and others were found standing near their deceased mother or sibling.

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Columbian Black-tailed deer are classified as a subspecies of the mule deer; their range is from southern Canada to central California and are found along the Pacific coast east to the Cascades.

They are the most common deer subspecies in Washington and are very similar in appearance to Rocky Mountain mule deer. However, black-tailed deer are smaller and have a broader tail that is completely covered with black hairs.

They are very adaptable and can live in a variety of habitats. Their main food source is browse (the growing tips of trees and shrubs) but they also eat fruit, nuts, acorns, fungi, and lichens.

Black-tailed deer are even adaptable in how they evade predators and have evolved several tactics in addition to hiding.

Their large ears and excellent vision help them detect danger from up to 1800 feet away. They will either leave the area before the predator gets too close or try to outmaneuver it. They do so by effectively using characteristics of the terrain such as boulders, steep slopes, ledges, trees, and deadfall to place obstacles between them and their predator.

They will also erratically change direction when being perused and they may even release a scent that alarms others triggering a group formation for protection.

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Black-tailed deer breed during the fall and give birth in mid to late spring. During their first few weeks of life the fawns will be left alone for extended periods of time while their mother forages.

While alone the fawns lay flat and motionless, in a bed of grass, and their white spots camouflage them from predators. As they become stronger they feed alongside mom and are no longer dependent on her by the end of the summer.

While the deer are at PAWS our rehabilitators work very hard to raise them so that they don't become habituated. They do so by limiting all human contact to a minimum.

They have a specialized way to feed the deer formula, they spend many hours throughout the summer collecting and delivering browse, and making sure their enclosure is cleaned without direct contact with the fawns.

This takes a lot of hard work and seeing the deer released is a very meaningful event.

On November 6th the five deer they'd cared for all summer were released on large tracts of land far from people.

Our staff and volunteers looked on as the deer explored their new habitat and made their way deeper into the forest.

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


By Caitlin Soden, Wildlife Volunteer Program Manager

It’s a pleasure to feature Jodi Gaylord this month! Jodi started volunteering for PAWS just three months ago but she dived right in and quickly became a vital part of the team. Her positive attitude and go get ‘em nature make her such a delight, so I jumped at the chance to find out about her experiences as a PAWS Wildlife Center volunteer.

Here’s what she had to say:

Jodi

How did you come to volunteer for PAWS?
After we moved to Seattle last winter, my husband saw a call for PAWS volunteers in an online newspaper. Knowing how crazy I am about wildlife, he sent me link and I decided to see if PAWS’ philosophies gelled with my own.

What’s it like to be a volunteer with us?
BUSY! There is a lot to do and it always seems like we are racing the clock. With a few key exceptions (squirrels, anyone?), there is not a lot of hands-on animal handling. You have to check the urge to ooh and ahh at these wild patients so I also do a weekly shift at the Companion Animal Shelter.

With so many wonderful organizations to choose from why do you continue to support PAWS?
PAWS makes it easy to give something of yourself. Supporting an organization often means giving financial support, which is critical, but is never as personally fulfilling as I desire. Knowing that I play even a small part in the rehabilitation and release of a wild animal gives me a deep sense of satisfaction.

Is there anyone specific that has influenced your decision to continue volunteering?
Not any one person but an attitude. There is an atmosphere of “ask me anything” that permeates PAWS Wildlife Center. The staff are eager to share their knowledge and don’t look upon my curiosity as an intrusion.

What is the most fun you’ve had at PAWS Wildlife Center?
Cleaning the raccoon silos. Their intense curiosity makes them so much fun to observe. You can almost see their brains working as they explore their surroundings, including trying to figure out what that funny thing is we call a “broom” and attempting to catch raindrops in their paws.

What do you do when you aren’t volunteering?
Appropriately enough, I am a wildlife and landscape photographer - my husband and I run City Escapes Nature Photography. Otherwise, I lead a pretty stereotypically-domesticated life. I read like crazy, knit, crochet and bake. I am learning to play an instrument and live to spoil my husband.

What might someone be surprised to learn about you?
I don’t have a pet! I grew up with many animals including goats, chickens and even a cockatiel that flew into our house and set up shop, but my husband is terribly allergic. I share my love of wildlife with him through our travels since you really shouldn’t be getting close enough to an elephant or polar bear for your allergies to kick in.

Inspired by Jodi? Become a PAWS volunteer today and help keep Washington State wildlife thriving!
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Find out more about wildlife rehabilitation at PAWS.


By Jennifer Convy & Jen Mannas, PAWS Wildlife Center

Fall is in full swing at PAWS and at this time of year we typically receive seabirds at our Wildlife Center.

Washington State’s hundreds of miles of coastline bordering Puget Sound and the Pacific Ocean make it a great year round home for many seabird species. As seabirds move to their wintering habitats in the open ocean from Washington’s inland lakes, they form large feeding flocks in the open oceans. These flocks can be comprised of thousands of birds of various species, all susceptible to large storms, oil spills and obstacles such as fishing nets.

Gill-nets are commonly used in the Pacific Ocean to catch several species of fish including salmon and tuna. These nets are set at different depths in the water column to target certain species of fish and are extremely difficult to see in the water. Unfortunately this means that other species of wildlife, including seabirds and marine mammals can become entangled in these nets.

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This is what happened recently to two adult Rhinoceros Auklets that were brought to our Wildlife Center on October 21st. Luckily for them the fisherman, or fisherwoman in this case, was able to remove the birds safely from the net and bring them to PAWS for care.

PAWS rehabilitation and veterinary staff examined the auklets shortly after their arrival to find no apparent injuries. Like all seabirds we care for, we then monitored the auklets in a pool enclosure to determine if their water proofing had been compromised in any way from the entanglement.

Seabirds have an intricate feather pattern responsible for their waterproofing qualities; enabling them to float properly, dive deep for feeding, evade danger and to stay dry and warm while in their aquatic environment. In order to maintain this complex waterproofing system seabirds regularly preen their feathers back into alignment each day. If anything such as a net or oil damages their feather patterns, and they are unable to realign their feathers into place quickly and easily, the feather waterproofing system is compromised and seabirds can get hypothermia resulting in either beaching themselves or drowning.

It is a common misunderstanding to assume all water birds can float just because they are seabirds or ducks, instead their floating success all depends on their waterproofing abilities.

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After observing these auklets swimming and diving at PAWS we noticed that the waterproofing structure on their back feathers needed a bit more preening and realignment to ensure these birds would be successful post-release. They stayed at PAWS a few more days to allow them time to completely preen their feathers into place, eat well and be strong and ready for the cold ocean again.

After just 3 days in our care their feathers were back in tip-top shape and they were ready to swim free in Puget Sound once again, which is where they were released on October 24th.

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

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