277 posts categorized in "Wildlife"


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.

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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.

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By Kellie Benz, PAWS Staff

Before you go imagining what fun rehabilitating a teenage bear might be, consider this; we don’t want American Black Bear 2014-1317 to know anything about us here at PAWS, we don’t want her to bond with us, to appreciate the time and care we’re taking for her. In fact, we hope never to see her again once she is released.

While that might sound cold, it’s actually the kindest care we can offer her.

So it goes that when it’s time to deliver food to a wildlife patient at PAWS, like American Black Bear 2014-1317, not a word is said. She is remotely shifted to a clean enclosure, safely tucked away from staff. We clean her empty enclosure and search for leftover food items from the prior day. There is no face to face or verbal interaction between caretakers and bear patients.

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American Black Bear 2014-1317 arrived at PAWS a few months back, delivered to us by Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife officers when she was discovered frequenting garbage bins in Renton. This juvenile bear was much thinner than a bear her age should be.

She had obviously not found her own territory in the wild due to the enticing aromas coming from people’s food scraps outside their homes. She was a wild bear with wild instincts and she deserved a second chance to make it on her own in her own habitat.

Thanks to the care at PAWS, she’s now over 20lbs heavier and gobbling up a steady diet of bear-appropriate food. She is curious and interested, with a preference for long branches with leaves and buds and fruit to discover along the way. She’ll eat everything we give her, everything that is, except radishes.

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Her distaste for one root vegetable aside, American Black Bear 2014-1317 is growing every day and getting stronger. She still has a way to go and she still needs to gain more weight. But every indication says she’s doing well.

If all goes according to plan, she’ll be retrieved by the same WDFW Officer who brought her to us and returned to the wilderness, away from garbage bins, where she can be more successful.

Once released, her time with PAWS will be a forgettable experience that she puts behind her as she prepares to find a den of her own to sleep in through the upcoming winter months.

In the PAWS Wildlife Hospital kitchen there is a flurry of activity these days, rehabilitators and volunteers sharing information while chopping up fruits and vegetables and weighing portions. In another room, PAWS staff note the details of progress for each animal into our database system.

Black bears aren’t the only animals PAWS cares for day to day - there are about 120 different species spending time at PAWS hospital this summer. Native species like deer and owls and Harbor seals and hummingbirds – all with specific diets, unique needs and for some, routine and complicated surgeries and medical care – are finding their way to health and wholeness at PAWS as we speak. It’s a busy time of year, but one filled with hope, too.

American Black Bear 2014-1317 is one of many species who are getting 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

We treat a variety of wildlife injuries here at PAWS Wildlife Center, but one of the most delicate and difficult to treat is eye injuries.

Most wildlife species depend heavily on their sight for survival so when that is compromised it can be very hard, if not impossible, to find food and stay away from predators.This is especially true if your eyes are stuck shut due to an infection, which is exactly what happened to a House Finch in Carnation, Washington.

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When the home owners first saw the House Finch flittering around their farm they noticed he had something wrong with his eyes. They monitored his condition and after a few days they noticed he was unable to fly and one of his eyes seemed to be stuck shut.

They assumed he was having a hard time finding any food or water so they picked him up and brought him all the way to PAWS.

On his initial examination, the veterinarians found he had severe conjunctivitis in his right eye, it was swollen and crusted shut, he had several feathers missing from his head and he was very weak.

It was hard to say at first whether he would be able to see out of that eye again but, after a month of treatment and cage rest, his conjunctivitis cleared up, he regained his strength and was flying once again.

On July 14th he was returned to Carnation and released back on his farm where he could be heard singing from his favorite tree.

Found a bird you think might need help? Read our guide on what to do.

Want to help care for birds at PAWS? Become a Wildlife Bird Nursery Caretaker.

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


By Jen Mannas, Naturalist

We are half way through the bustling baby bird season here at PAWS and, similar to the American Crows we talked about a couple weeks ago, we are frequently receiving Dark-eyed Juncos at the Wildlife Center.

Adult Dark-eyed Juncos are small birds that have a dark head with a white belly and white outer tail feathers. When you see one of these birds flittering around your backyard you may think they just look like a typical bird but they are more than that. They have actually had a big impact on ecological research.

Biologists have been studying them since the 1920’s and, thanks to these little birds, we have a better understanding of bird biology and behavior. They are also one of the most common bird species in the United States and can be seen across the entire country.

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The main reason juncos are brought to PAWS, on an almost daily basis, is that they nest on the ground. This makes them and their babies vulnerable to predators, especially cats. This leads to orphaned chicks and injured fledglings, which are what we primarily receive.

When the baby juncos first arrive at PAWS they are housed in the baby bird nursery where volunteers, interns and staff members take the place of their parents; diligently working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week to keep them fed and healthy.

Some of them will be in the nursery for several weeks before they are old enough to graduate to a larger enclosure where they then wait for their release.

Without the dedication of our baby bird nursery 'parents' these young juncos, along with the other baby birds that come to PAWS, would not survive and make it back to the wild.

Want to help care for baby birds at PAWS? Become a Wildlife Bird Nursery Caretaker.

Found a baby bird you think might need help? Read our guide on what to do.

Help us to continue providing a safe haven for rehabilitating wildlife - sponsor a wild animal.


By Jen Mannas, Naturalist

The fall/winter season here at PAWS Wildlife Center is generally slower than the bustling spring/summer season. So everyone was a little surprised on December 07, 2013 when an adult American Bald Eagle was brought in to the wildlife center by an officer from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

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The eagle was found in a ditch on the side of the road, unable to fly, by a motorist who immediately called WDFW.

Upon the eagle’s examination at PAWS (pictured, right) she was found to be in good body condition but had facial abrasions and lacerations, a swollen right foot, and all of the primary feathers on her right wing were broken, leaving her grounded.

Her injuries and where she was found suggested she was struck by a car while feeding on a carcass on the side of the road, a common cause of injury and even death for scavenging wildlife.

Treatment started immediately to heal her skin wounds and over time her broken primary feathers were removed to stimulate growth of new, healthy, feathers which would allow her to fly once again.

This was all a lengthy process and in June she was deemed healthy enough to be moved to our flight pen (pictured, below right) where she attempted her first flight in 6 months.

Despite her right wing droop and the long wait for her new feathers to grow in, she is recovering quite well.

The staff continues to monitor her progress and, with more time in our largest flight pen, she continues to regain her strength and soon will be able to fly free once again.

Like all of the animals brought to PAWS Wildlife Center this eagle’s treatment and recovery could not have been possible without the dedication of our staff and volunteers as well as generous donations that have provided medical supplies and food for her long recovery.

Find out more about wildlife rehabilitation.

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A regular gift goes a long way towards helping animals like this American Bald Eagle - join our Constant Companions Club.


By Kellie Benz, PAWS Staff

Teenagers and pizza are a very common pairing in today’s world. When that teenager is a young American Black Bear, however, it can be a first strike toward impending doom.

Recently, PAWS took in a teenage American Black Bear who gambled on human food and got very close to losing. We don’t name wild animals here, our Wildlife Hospital’s goal is to get our patients healthy and return them to the habitat that they play a vital role in. Instead, staff identified this young cub as #2014-1317 while she is in our care.

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From all signs, we think American Black Bear #2014-1317 is about a year old, a cub probably born last spring in the wilderness outside Redmond, WA. Mother Black bears typically wean their cubs around 6 months, some as late as 8 months, but the cubs can often forage with the mom for up to a year. For #2014-1317 she appeared to be alone, trying to survive in an area dense with other bigger, tougher, older bears, none of them were her mother.

Neighbors noticed her digging through garbage bins, seeking scraps of food and breaking into bird feeders in search of the nuts and seeds she would normally forage for in the wild. In light of her ‘criminal acts’, garbage bins were better secured and bird feeders were moved out of reach. Still, she tried to look for food until neighbors reported her to authorities.

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The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officer who placed her status as ‘failure to thrive’ and brought her to PAWS estimates that she hadn’t eaten for more than 2 days. As PAWS medical staff prepared to sedate her (for a full exam), her low growls and lunging proved she still had a lot of wild in her. But her energy was low. She was spent and she arrived to PAWS just in time.

When PAWS veterinarian, Dr. Groves, was able to examine her (pictured right), it was verified just how underweight she really was.

A few weeks ago, PAWS released an American Black Bear back to the wild in Oregon. That bear was just over a year old and 112 lbs.

American Black Bear #2014-1317 weighed in at a dangerous 66 lbs. The rest of her exam yielded no other concerns, save for her frayed claws from digging in metal garbage bins for the meager scraps of human food she could find.

American Black Bears (Ursus Americanus) once roamed all of the wooded areas of North America. Human growth and development has pushed them into smaller and smaller forests, our most remote areas. In the United States, current population statistics report about 300,000 individual black bears across 40 states. Sub-species of the American Black Bear are the Louisiana Black Bear (Ursus americanus luteolu) and Florida Black Bear (Ursus americanus floridanus). The Louisiana Black Bear remains on the Federal threatened species list. Washington State’s American Black Bear populations are being edged further and further out of the habitat they have always roamed, and the transition hasn’t been easy.

Bear #2014-1317 is one of the lucky ones. A fed bear is a dead bear is a reality for American Black Bears today when people encroach on their habitat, and create easy and unnatural food opportunities for wild animals.

She’ll have a chance now at PAWS to regain her strength and be introduced to the type of native foods she will encounter upon her release.

After she recovered from her sedation, American Black Bear #2014-1317 took a few sips of fresh water, possibly her first in days. In the PAWS Wildlife Hospital kitchen, volunteers prepared a meal more befitting a bear, tastes and textures she’s probably never experienced before. On the menu tonight will be a small combination of natural foods such as fish, berries and an assortment of other items nutritionally suitable for a half-starved bear.

Next Month's Update: Rehabilitating an American Black Bear

Find out what it takes to become a Wildlife Rehabilitator.

Follow our PAWS Wildlife blog.


By Jen Mannas, Naturalist

Tis the season for crows here at PAWS Wildlife Center.

This is the time of year when baby American crows are leaving their nests for the first time and learning to fly. At first, these fledglings cannot fly very well and can spend up to 2 weeks on the ground while their parents continue to feed and protect them.These fledglings are about the same size as adults, can appear awkward and clumsy, and can be mistaken for injured adult birds.

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If you find a crow on the ground, with no obvious injury, and are unsure if he is an injured adult or fledgling there are a few things to look for before scooping him up and bringing him to PAWS.

First, look at the bird’s eyes and beak. If the bird has light blue eyes and pink along the corner of his mouth then he is a juvenile. Look and listen for adult crows nearby calling or dive bombing you as you approach the bird. Those crows are the juvenile’s parents trying to protect their baby.

If the juvenile is not in imminent danger or in the middle of a road, leave the baby alone so his parents can care for him. 

If you are still unsure if the bird needs help call PAWS Wildlife Center at 425-412-4040 to speak to a staff member. 

Want to help care for baby birds at PAWS? Become a Wildlife Bird Nursery Caretaker.

Found a baby bird you think might need help? Read our guide on what to do.

 

Step quietly into the PAWS baby bird nursery and you’ll be overwhelmed by song. The tweet tweets come courtesy of one of our amazing PAWS volunteers.

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When Noeleen Stewart first came to PAWS as a volunteer, she heard something in the baby bird nursery that she knew she had a special affinity for. Babies like this American Robin (pictured right) were listening to faint sounds of adult species recordings in the wild, and Noeleen had a little insight into how to improve the accuracy of those sounds.

Her husband, Martyn Stewart, just happens to be a professional audio recordist for nature broadcasters like the BBC, National Geographic and many more. His career has taken him around the world and back and today he lives right here in Washington state.

Martyn is most noted for several wildlife documentary series and for his work with the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He joined the refuge team in 2006 as a member of the Wild Sanctuary researcher group as they recorded the Arctic SoundScape Project at the refuge and Alaska’s Katmai National Park Project.

Martyn has recorded the sound of many types of wild animals from cetaceans in Japan to Alaskan Black Bears to Pacific Chorus Frogs to Peregrine Falcons. Back home in Washington, Martyn recorded the only full length CD of Pacific Northwest songbird calls, and when he did, Noeleen brought it to PAWS for our use in rehabilitating wild baby birds.

PAWS Wildlife Director Jennifer Convy knew the sounds would compliment the work we do in our PAWS wild bird nursery.

Last week, we asked Martyn to come visit the wild bird nursery where his songbird calls help to comfort the baby birds in our care. During the visit, Martyn did what Martyn does best – he recorded the experience for everyone to see!

Here’s Martyn’s short film of his recent visit to PAWS to see his work changing the lives of the birds in our care.

You can take a piece of Martyn’s work home with you AND support the care we provide wild animals.

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A limited number of Martyn’s Pacific Northwest Songbird CDs are for sale at the PAWS Wildlife Center right now. Martyn has kindly donated 100% of the profit from each $15 CD to PAWS. To purchase yours, call 426-787-2500, ext 817.

To learn more about Martyn Stewart and the work that he does around the world, visit his website.

Want to get involved in caring for baby birds at PAWS? Become a Wildlife Bird Nursery Caretaker.

Found a baby bird you think might need help? Read our guide on what to do.

 

The little Northern Saw-whet Owl sitting on the perch box eyed me suspiciously. And he did so with good reason—I am a predator in his eyes, afterall. But due to recent events, the owl had additional cause to be suspicious of anything in his immediate surroundings.

Northern Saw-whet Owl

On March 11, the unsuspecting owl was flying through the Arboretum near the University of Washington toward a branch, a bush, or some other destination, on what appeared to be a clear flight path. However, the path was anything but clear, and the owl was struck from the sky by an invisible object.

Northern Saw-whet Owl

Like thousands of birds do every year, the saw-whet owl had flown headlong into a window. When the light hits at just the right angle, a window behaves like a mirror, reflecting the nearby vegetation, sky or landscape. There are very few perfectly reflective vertical surfaces in nature, so birds who are looking at these window reflections have no reason to believe that what they're seeing is not real. Only the traumatic impact of the sudden collision breaks the illusion. If the bird is lucky, the illusion is the only thing that gets broken.

Northern Saw-whet Owl

In the case of this saw-whet owl, the collision resulted in head trauma and bruising, but no apparent broken bones. For the past two weeks he has been steadily recuperating from his injuries at the PAWS Wildlife Center. He was recently moved into an outdoor flight enclosure and is on track to make a full recovery.

Northern Saw-whet Owl

Not all birds who strike windows are as lucky as this owl. If you would like to learn more about preventing window strikes on your property, visit the Common Problems With Wildlife page on the PAWS website.

 Having a wildlife problem? PAWS can help

 

 

It’s that time of year again. Days are getting longer, plants are getting greener, and birds are getting louder. Some of this noise is welcome—who doesn’t like the dawn chorus of singing birds heralding the arrival of spring? But this performance is not limited to just the beautiful singers. They have a full percussion section backing them up, and as far as the percussionists are concerned, the louder they can play, the better.

The percussionists, of course, are woodpeckers. But despite their name, they will peck on pretty much anything that makes noise. The reverberations are intended to attract the attention of potential mates and intimidate potential rivals. The activity is called “drumming,” but when it is done on a metal surface, “hammering” may be a more accurate description. When a woodpecker drums on a chimney or vent cover, the sound resembles a jackhammer.

For several years in a row, a Red-breasted Sapsucker (a very small woodpecker species) on the PAWS campus has been using a metal streetlight cover as his sounding board. If you are standing under the pole when he is putting on his performance, the sound can be downright tooth-rattling.

Red-breasted sapsucker

The most common woodpeckers in Western Washington are the large Northern Flickers. On a recent morning walk, I heard two individuals of this species having a decibel duel. The birds were about two blocks apart, and each was perched on a metal chimney attached to a home. It was very early, but I doubt that anyone in the entire neighborhood was still asleep after the competition began.

Northern Flicker

Woodpeckers can be challenging neighbors at this time of year, but there are many ways to humanely address any conflicts that arise with these beautiful and interesting birds. If you find yourself being rattled awake by an enthusiastic drummer, I encourage you to visit the Woodpecker page on the PAWS website. It contains a wealth of information about woodpecker behavior, as well as information on common conflicts and their solutions.

Having a wildlife problem? PAWS can help