340 posts categorized in "Wildlife"

By JaneA Kelley, PAWS Staff

Do you want to spend your Friday or Saturday evenings volunteering with animals?

Wait, before you click away, let us tell you a bit about the importance of volunteers—who we rely on seven days a week, 365 days a year—and share with you some stories of PAWS volunteers who take those weekend night shifts.

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Photo by Benjamin Fry

Last year at PAWS, more than 8,200 cats, dogs and wild animals were brought to us in need of help. We couldn’t have assisted these animals in finding homes or returning to the wild without the help of our volunteers.

More than 800 volunteers contributed a staggering 63,176 hours (the equivalent of 7.2 years!) to helping us in 2015.

You might be surprised to know that even with all this volunteer support, we still need more. This is particularly true for our weekend shifts. While walking dogs and tending to wildlife might not seem like the perfect way to start the weekend, Tom, who has been serving as a Friday-night dog walker for a year now, would like to tell you otherwise.

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“I really do enjoy the shift and find it a convenient, satisfying way to cap off the traditional work week,” Tom says. “I like to think of the Friday shift as ‘PAWS Happy Hour’ since not only does it coincide with human Happy Hour, it's busy and fun and the doggies are very happy to have their dinner and go for an evening stroll in the woods.”

If you’d like to spend your happy hour with our companion animals  we desperately need more Friday night dog walkers, and also kennel attendants, who deal with every aspect of a dog’s life at PAWS. Which is one of the really rewarding aspects of volunteering out of hours. It’s just you and them, and you’re making a very real impact on a dog’s life. That can be a special experience.

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Helping dogs on the night shift still leaves plenty of time to connect with friends and family. Most volunteers at our shelter leave by 6 or 7 p.m. “That’s still pretty early in the scheme of a weekend,” Tom says, “so people have plenty of time to head out for a movie or dinner.”

If you’re more interested in taking a weekend walk on the wild side, we are always looking for more volunteer wildlife care assistants to fill Friday and Saturday night shifts during our busy season (6:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m., April through September). Crucial to maintaining continuity of care for our patients, wildlife care assistants get involved with feeding and final checks on patients.

Randi has been volunteering with PAWS for more than 12 years and always takes an evening shift at our wildlife center in the summer. “I like the late shift because there’s a smaller team and you get to interact more closely with your shift mates and the rehabbers,” she says, adding that even though there’s a lot to do, it’s a great shift because time moves quickly when you’re busy and enjoying your fellow volunteers’ company.

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Jennifer, another volunteer at our wildlife center, says that the evening shift allows her to fit her volunteer interests into her regular work schedule. “For me the volunteer tasks are a welcome break from my regular desk job and I am given the opportunity to learn and experience things I would not in my day to day life,” she says. “There is a good energy to the evening shift despite how busy it often is, the feel is very laid back; you are winding the shelter down for the night and preparing for the next morning.”

Why not join “PAWS Happy Hour” and volunteer with us on a Friday or Saturday night? By the time you are finished with your shift, there will still be plenty of time to enjoy a night out with friends or spend a relaxing evening at home. And, as Tom says, “It sends you off into the weekend feeling good.”

Are you interested in volunteering with PAWS? Learn how to get started.

By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

The Puget Sound region is home to a wide array of wildlife species, many of whom make their homes in the forests and single trees in our region. Trees and forests provide critical habitat, cover and nesting sites to many wild species including cavity nesting owls, woodpeckers, native squirrels and bats; not to mention the multitude of birds whose amazing nests grace thick limbs and tiny branches alike.

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An Anna's Hummingbird sits in a nest


February through September are the most active nesting months for Washington wildlife, trees will be teeming with life. Please be aware that pruning or cutting down trees during this time can and does displace, harm, and even kill a variety of wildlife species. PAWS Wildlife Center receives hundreds of baby wild animals each year, many of which are displaced when their nest tree was cut down or their nest site was destroyed.

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Black-capped Chickadees nesting


Before cutting down any tree, whether it is alive or dead, please consider taking the following steps to prevent unnecessary loss of life or habitat:

  • Plan tree-cutting projects from November through January, which is well after nesting season.
  • Inspect the tree for active nests before beginning work on the tree.
  • Consider cutting just the bare minimum of branches, leaving the nest section alone.
  • Standing dead trees (snags) are great wildlife habitats, often housing several different species. Please consider leaving snags standing. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife encourages the public to save their snags as wildlife habitat. You can even purchase a sign from them to display on your snag to help educate your community.
  • If the tree does not present a hazard, the best course of action may be to leave it alone, as all trees provide some form of habitat for wild creatures.
  • Many wildlife species are federally protected and the law prohibits destroying and/or disturbing their nests.
  • If a nest-bearing tree absolutely must be cut down, first call PAWS at 425.412.4040 to find out what steps to take.
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A Northern Flicker feeds her young


The staff at PAWS Wildlife Center would like to thank you for helping to preserve our wildlife and their habitats. Please do not hesitate to call us if you have any questions.

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A Bushtit builds a nest

By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

You may have noticed a lot more birds singing outside your windows. Spring is on its way, and many song bird species are starting to establish territories and get ready for the breeding season.

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One of the little birds you may see and will definitely hear is the Pacific Wren. We are currently treating one at PAWS Wildlife Center who was the victim of a cat attack. Currently he is unable to fly, has a right wing droop and swelling and bruising on his right wing. He is currently under cage rest and being treated with antibiotics.

Hopefully his injuries heal and he will be able to be released back into the wild to sing with the rest of his kind.

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But until then, let me introduce you to the Pacific Wren:

Species Info:

  • Small song bird with a short, stubby tail and short, slender bill
  • Wingspan is 4.7 to 6.3 inches and weigh 8 to 12 grams
  • Prefers dense coniferous forests
  • Nests in tree cavities, root bases and on branches less than six feet above the ground
  • Nest is made of moss, weeds, grass, animal hair and feathers
  • Clutch size is 4 to 7 eggs that are white with reddish brown dots
  • Young leave the nest about 17 days after hatching
  • Insectivore eating insects, insect larvae, millipedes, spiders and others
  • Feeds on the ground, in low shrubs, near the bases of trees, and around fallen dead wood

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Cool Facts:

  • Sometimes roost communally in cold weather. In one case, 31 individuals were found together in a nest box in Western Washington.
  • One of the only North American wrens associated with old-growth forests.
  • Was once considered the same species as the Winter Wren but was split into a separate species in 2010 after research showed they do not interbreed.

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By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

You may or not be aware that there are four species of hummingbird found in Washington in the summer: Rufous, Calliope, Anna’s and the occasional Black-chinned. In the winter it’s a different story: Although most of the hummingbirds in North America migrate to a warmer climate in the winter, we have a year-round hummingbird resident right here in Washington.

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The Anna’s Hummingbird is the only hummingbird in Washington that not only breeds here but also spends its entire winter with us. However, this was not always the case. Anna’s Hummingbirds once bred only in Baja and in Southern California. Due to the planting of exotic flowering trees, their exploitation of hummingbird feeders and their ability to withstand low temperatures, they have expanded their breeding range and now also winter as far north as Juneau, Alaska. They are now the most common hummingbird along the Pacific Coast and frequent patients at PAWS Wildlife Center.

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Anna’s Hummingbirds are medium-sized stocky hummingbirds that are mostly green and gray. The male’s head and throat are also covered in iridescent reddish-pink feathers. They have a wing span of 4.7 inches and weigh between three and six grams. They are extremely territorial and will fight off other hummingbirds that come too close. They build nests made of plant down and spider webs and lay two eggs between January and April. They feed on nectar from flowering plants, but their ability to exploit both nectar and insects is the reason they are able to breed earlier in the year than other hummingbirds.

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You may be wondering how such a small bird is able to survive the bitter cold days and nights of Washington winters, particularly since the Ana’s Hummingbird’s normal body temperature is 107 degrees. On very cold nights, hummingbirds have the ability to go into a shortened state of inactivity called torpor. During this time they reduce their body temperature and metabolic rate to conserve energy—they have the ability to reduce their body temperature to 48 degrees. When the outside temperature warms up again they become active within a few minutes.

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During the winter, when we receive Anna’s Hummingbirds at PAWS Wildlife Center, much of the time it is because they were coming out of torpor when someone found them. In this state they are not able to fly away like they normally do.

We received a patient on January 31 for this reason. He was found sitting on a trash can unable to fly. The finder brought him to us in fear that he was injured or sick. After a few minutes sitting on a heating pad and a few sips of special hummingbird nectar, he was revived and flying around our exam room beautifully. Because he was not injured, he was returned promptly to his territory later that afternoon.

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by Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

2015 was full of its ups and downs throughout the year, but the end marked some important milestones for wildlife conservation.

Here we touch on just a few important discoveries and legislative changes in the fields of wildlife management and conservation in Washington State that took place in 2015.

Fisher reintroduction to the Cascades

Right here in Washington, a species that has been absent from the Cascade Mountains for 70 years was recently reintroduced to this vast mountain range. Between December 2015 and February 2017, 80 Fishers will be translocated from Canada to the Cascades and released in hopes they will successfully repopulate the area; the first release took place on December 3.


Can't see this video? Watch it on Conservation Northwest's YouTube channel.

Fishers were trapped and poisoned to extinction in Washington by the mid-1900s and are currently listed as endangered within the state. There are high hopes this reintroduction will be successful as a similar reintroduction program restored Fishers to the Olympic Peninsula. Starting in 2008, 90 Fishers were reintroduced there over a three-year time span and are now successfully reproducing and dispersing across the peninsula. This reintroduction is a start to restore the biodiversity of the Cascades helping to balance the ecosystem and improve its health.

Washington bans transfer of ivory and other products from endangered species

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Steve Oberholtze of the US Fish & Wildlife Service assembles ivory tusks on a tower for display before crushing. Photo by Ivy Allen / USFWS


Another win for Washington happened last November, when voters passed the Washington Animal Trafficking Initiative 1401 with more than 1 million votes. This bill prohibits the purchase, sale and distribution of 10 endangered species groups and their parts including elephant ivory, tiger, lion, leopard and pangolin parts, as well as sea turtle eggs and shark fins, in the state. This is the first ever comprehensive state ban on the commerce of endangered species in the United States. There is hope this will set a precedent for others states.

New wolf pack documented in Washington


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed a new wolf pack in Washington. The Loup Loup pack was found near Twisp and Omak in Okanogan County in December. This brings the total number of wolf packs in Washington to a minimum of 17.

Biologists have been snow-tracking the pack to confirm the number of wolves within it and have tracked up to six so far. They plan on monitoring the pack throughout the winter and getting a collar on one of the wolves in the summer of 2016 to monitor the pack’s movements.

The confirmation of a new pack is a good sign that the current wolf population is naturally re-establishing itself. A new count will be conducted this spring.

Hopefully these trends will continue on in 2016, furthering conservation of our natural world and the wildlife species who live in it.

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, Wildlife Naturalist

Here at PAWS Wildlife Center, we are ringing in the New Year with some new and even rare patients. Since January 1, we have received just over 10 patients. Some unfortunately had injuries too extensive for us to treat including patient number seven, a Coyote who had been struck by a car and sustained a spinal fracture, and patient number six, a Pine Siskin who flew into a window.

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This Red-Necked Grebe is currently in our care.


Others, however, are treatable and are currently in our care. Patient number eight is a Red-necked Grebe who was found on the beach in Edmonds unable to fly. Rarely seen at PAWS Wildlife Center, these birds spend their winters at sea and aren’t typically seen inshore. They do sometimes get blown in during winter storms, getting injured or too exhausted to fly in the process. Our patient is currently regaining his strength and mending his waterproofing.

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This Varied Thrush is recovering from a scapular fracture.


Patient number nine is a Varied Thrush that hit a window. He is being treated for a scapular fracture and is under strict cage rest to give his wound a chance to heal properly.

Meanwhile, some patients held over from 2015 are ready for release and will be released back in to the wild this week:

Band-tailed Pigeon


Band-tailed Pigeon 15-4185 was found in Brier dragging himself on the ground. When he arrived at PAWS, he had a misaligned beak, a wing droop, was falling over and was weak. After 22 days in our care he has been okayed for release this week.

The first week of 2016 has already been busy and included a few surprises. We are excited to see what and who the rest of 2016 brings us.

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, Wildlife Naturalist

2015 was one the busiest years we have had in the past five here at PAWS Wildlife Center.

With your help we treated over 4,200 patients this year (some are pictured below), almost 800 more than in 2014.

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Several were patients we rarely see at the Wildlife Center including a Rough-legged Hawk, a Mule Deer, an American Dipper and two baby Mink. Others were common species including eight American Black Bears, over 1,000 baby birds, 15 Bald Eagles, and 16 Northern Flying Squirrels.

A special thank-you to over 300 volunteers who donated thousands of hours of their time in 2015 at PAWS Wildlife Center, feeding, transporting, caring for and cleaning up after our patients to ensure they have a healthy environment in which to grow and heal.

As we look back at 2015, 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.

While you ring in the New Year, check out the video below to enjoy an inside look at some of our more memorable patients and their releases.

2015 Looking Back from PAWS on Vimeo.

 

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, Wildlife Naturalist

We are still receiving animals daily who need medical attention. Most of them will return to the wild after just a short time in our care. We do, however, have several patients at PAWS Wildlife Center who will be spending the entire winter with us.

We have eight American Black Bear cubs in our care right now, each of whom came to us with their own story and from across the state of Washington.

We received our first bear cub on August 16 from Renton and our eighth on December 13 from Skykomish. All eight cubs were orphaned and found alone too young to survive on their own.

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Thanks to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, each cub was captured and brought in to grow up at PAWS.

Currently seven of our bear patients are housed together while the eighth bear is waiting for her quarantine period to end before being introduced to the others. The bears spend their day wrestling and sleeping in a tub filled with straw when they aren’t exploring their enclosures for food.

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As these bears play and assert their dominance, they are learning very useful skills that will help them survive in the wild and better integrate back into the wild bear population when they are released next spring.

Another way to help bears prepare for the wild is to stimulate their instincts to search for food. To do this, our staff and volunteers develop enrichment items that can be filled with food and other treats that are later placed in their enclosures.

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A favorite enrichment item around the holidays is used Christmas trees. We typically hide food in among the branches of the trees, which are then hung in the bears' enclosures. The bears also like to use the trees for other natural behaviors such as rubbing and clawing. Other enrichment items include rotting logs (see video below), large branches, papier mache boxes, and fresh water pools.

By developing these useful skills here at PAWS, they will have a better chance of surviving on their own in the wild. Be sure to check back throughout the winter for photos and videos of our bear patients romping around and learning what it takes to be a wild black bear.

Black Bear Enrichment from PAWS on Vimeo

 

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, Wildlife Naturalist

Do you love birds? Have you ever wanted to help bird researchers but you weren’t sure how you could?

Pacific Wren, PAWS Campus 040412 KM

Well now’s your chance. The annual Christmas Bird Count runs from December 15 through January 5. For the last 115 years, citizen scientists like yourself have conducted a bird census across the western hemisphere. The data from this important census helps researchers better understand how our bird populations are doing and how their populations are being affected by our changing world. Data from this census has already been used in more than 200 peer-reviewed articles.

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The Christmas Bird Count started on Christmas Day in 1900 when scientists were starting to become concerned about declining bird populations. Ornithologist Frank M. Chapman proposed a Christmas bird census that would count birds during the holiday season rather than the traditional side hunt -- a competition in which teams of hunters went into the woods with rifles to kill birds and small game -- which was conducted each Christmas.

Christmas bird count-world map
Image courtesy of Audubon


What started out as 27 birders conducting 25 surveys from Toronto to Pacific Grove, CA has turned into 72,000 bird enthusiasts conducting surveys in over 2,400 locations across the Western Hemisphere.

Participation is free and bird lovers of all ages and skill levels are encouraged to participate. Each count takes place in an established 15-mile-wide circle on one day between December 15 and January 5 and is organized by a count compiler. Volunteers follow a specified route in that area, counting every bird they see or hear.

Christmas bird count-WA map
Image courtesy of Audubon


If helping from home is more your speed, you can do so if your home is within the boundaries of a Christmas Bird Count circle. From Bellingham south to Olympia there are 19 survey circles, including two in the San Juan Islands and several others on the Olympic Peninsula. If you’ve made prior arrangements with the count compiler in charge of your area, you can report birds that visit your backyard habitat or feeder.

To get involved, register your email address on the Audubon Christmas Bird Count website and they will send you links and information on how to choose your census circle and how to sign up.

For more information about the Christmas Bird Count, check out these websites:

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, Wildlife Naturalist

There is no arguing that winter is upon us here in Washington. The last week has been filled with frosty mornings and cold temperatures. We find comfort on these days with a cup of coffee, sitting by a fire, or wrapping up in a blanket.

But how does wildlife deal with these dropping temperatures?

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Many wildlife species migrate out of our area for a warmer climate where food is more plentiful, while others move in a vertical migration, descending from high-elevation summering grounds to lower wintering grounds with less snow and more food.

However, several species stay put and face the winter head on. Species who do this have adapted to survive the winter by changing their behavior and activity patterns to adjust to the changing temperatures and amount of available daylight.

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Many species that do not migrate go into a lower metabolic state that requires less energy for survival. Many mammalian species go into hibernation; their metabolism slows down and they rely on stored fat reserves to survive. Reptiles and amphibians go into a state known as brumation, which is their equivalent to mammalian hibernation. Other species go through periods of decreased activity called torpor, where they reduce their body temperature and metabolic rate. Hibernation, brumation and torpor help animals survive during periods of extreme temperatures or reduced food availability.

Fun Fact: Black-capped Chickadees go into regulated hypothermia in harsh winters. They can lower their body temperature by 12 to 15 degrees below their normal daytime temperature to conserve energy during freezing nights.

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Some species stay very active in the winter and have evolved adaptations to help them survive. Birds fluff their feathers up to make thicker insulation and eat more food to stay warm. Some weasels, rabbits, and foxes grow a white fur coat in the winter to help camouflage them better. Some animals hide under the snow, which acts as an insulator, keeping them warm during the worst of the cold weather. Others flock or huddle together for warmth, while some species actually have a natural antifreeze in their cells.

With all these cool adaptations, it’s no wonder you still see so many animals milling around in your backyard habitat even during the coldest of days.

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Currently at PAWS Wildlife Center we are caring for several species that are very active during the winter including a Coyote, a Northern Saw-whet Owl and a Bewick’s Wren. We are also caring for seven Black Bear cubs who will remain with us through the winter. Stayed tuned for updates on them over the next several months.

 

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.