327 posts categorized in "Wildlife"

By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

As an organization who rehabilitates bears, we couldn't let Bear Awareness Week in Washington go by without sharing some top tips and fascinating facts to help you be more bear aware this summer. 

There are two species of bears in Washington - Grizzly and Black Bears. Grizzlies in western Washington spend all of their time high up in the cascades and are hardly seen. And, although Black Bears tend to avoid contact with humans, they have adapted to living in closer proximity to us due to habitat loss and the expansion of human populations into their habitat.


Grizzly Bears are federally listed as threatened and state listed as endangered. There is estimated to be less than one hundred Grizzly Bears in Washington; half live in the North Cascades and the other half in the Selkirk Ecosystem on the Washington Idaho border. Grizzly bears have almost been hunted to extinction in the lower 48 states and have lost 98% of their original habitat.

Black Bears, on the other hand, are the most common and widely distributed bear in North America. It's estimated there are as many as 25,000 in Washington. Black Bears are classified as a game species in Washington and there is an annual hunting season.

If you spend a lot of time outside this summer in bear country keep these things in mind:

  • Do not hike alone 
  • Make noise on the trail 
  • Carry bear spray and have it accessible 
  • Never run from a bear

Although Black Bears are numerous in Washington and Oregon, sometimes injured individuals and orphans need our help.


Since 1986 PAWS has successfully rehabilitated and released 78 Black Bears back to the mountains of Washington and Oregon. We recently released five cubs, a few of which we'd been caring for since last spring.

As you can imagine, rehabilitating bears is no small task and we've developed some very strict guidelines for the staff who care for them. Bears must have their enclosures cleaned daily and they must be isolated as much as possible from humans.

To make sure the bears do not become habituated to humans, we've developed a special system to move our patients from one enclosure to another so they can be cleaned and fed without contact. It takes several hours each day to complete these tasks.


You may ask "How do you feed bears?". Well, it’s definitely not as simple as feeding a dog or cat! Staff actually have to think like a bear and hide the food in their enclosures, encouraging them to use their senses to search for food as they would in the wild. We even put fish in small pools where the bears have to actually search and “fish” them out (see video below).

We typically receive orphaned cubs here at PAWS, which can spend anywhere from six months to a year in our care. This requires a lot of investment in food! Growing bear cubs can consume over 30 lbs of food a week and PAWS can house up to seven at one time. That's over 200 lbs of food a week for several months!

All of this hard work leads up to the eventual release of the bears back to their natural habitat, far up in the mountains away from humans. We have help from state agencies in both Washington and Oregon to find suitable release sites for the bears - sites where they'll have the best chance at a fresh start in the wild. 

Want to be even more bear aware? Visit Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Western Wildlife Outreach.

Inspired by our work with bears? Consider making a donation today to help us continue providing vital care to wild animals in need.

Found a wild animal in need? Find out how PAWS can help.

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

By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

At PAWS Wildlife Center we understand how important collaborating with outside organizations is to having a successful wildlife rehabilitation program.

We often work with other wildlife rehabilitation centers in our area, transferring young animals so they can grow up with conspecifics (members of the same species). This is essential to growing babies as it greatly reduces the likelihood of them becoming used to human contact. They also learn the skills they'll need to survive in the wild from each other.

So far in 2015 we’ve transferred out a young coyote to grow up with eight adopted siblings at Sarvey Wildlife Care Center and a river otter pup. We’ve transferred in a young barn owlet (pictured below) and a Hooded Merganser duckling to grow up with the ones we’re currently housing.


When releasing wildlife we reach outside of the rehabilitation world, and work very closely with state and county agencies—as well as nonprofit organizations—to find suitable release sites for our patients.

It’s important that our patients go back to the exact location they came from; but sometimes this isn’t possible. For these cases we rely on other organizations to assist us in finding areas that not only have suitable habitat but are also, for some species, a place away from high human activity.


King County Parks has been very helpful in helping us release Raccoons, Black Tailed Deer, River Otters and even Hummingbirds on their park lands. 

The Falcon Research Group has helped us return Peregrine Falcons back to their nests and reunite Cooper’s Hawks with their siblings in the wild.

We collaborate with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association for releasing marine mammals rehabilitated at PAWS.

When it comes to Black Bear releases, we seek assistance from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and their Karelian Bear Dog Program.

Karelian Bear Dogs are trained from a young age to seek out cougars and bears, assist wildlife officers and biologists with tracking and releasing wildlife, and detect evidence used in criminal cases. 

Bear releases are our biggest of the year, and we sometimes release as many as five in one day – quite the operation! Taken high up in the mountains, away from people near their point of origin, the presence of these impressive dogs (pictured above) helps ensure that the bears are less likely to cause conflicts and more likely to stay away from humans after their return to the wild. 

It can often to take a village to save the lives of our wild neighbors. Thanks to this supportive network of organizations working closely together, wildlife here in the Pacific Northwest can continue to thrive. 

Found a wild animal in need? Find out how PAWS can help.

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

By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

You may remember, back in early October of 2014, PAWS Wildlife Center received a patient we'd never treated before – a Steller Sea Lion pup, estimated to be only four months old. Today we look back at his rehabilitation and share the happy ending that saw him return to Washington waters this spring.

Found alone on a beach in southwest Washington, the pup was brought to PAWS by a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) marine mammal biologist for treatment.

Below is one of the pictures we took of him just after he arrived. He was very thin, weak, anemic, had multiple lacerations, and only weighed 68 lbs. A healthy Steller Sea Lion at that age should weigh at least twice that much.


Examined on intake by our veterinarian team, and given fluids and a specialized formula, PAWS staff worked diligently over the next few days to stabilize the pup and get him on solid food. With every feeding he regained his strength and, after a week, he was happily eating fish and had gained over 15 lbs.

Adult male Stellers can weigh up to 2,500 lbs so, even in the short amount of time he would spend with us, we knew this patient was going to grow quite a bit! With this in mind, he was moved to a larger enclosure with a more suitable pool for swimming: 

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

Steller Sea Lions are very social and interact with other pinnipeds (a carnivorous aquatic mammal of the order Pinnipedia, such as the Harbor Seal) in the wild. Since our sea lion patient was so young, it was extremely important that he be exposed to other sea lions. Given it was unlikely we'd get another one during that time of year, it was decided he'd be transferred to a facility where he could be housed with others like him until his release back in Washington.

On November 14 he was flown—as part of a U.S. Coast Guard training mission—to California to continue his long term rehabilitation at The Marine Mammal Center (TMMC). 

In his four months there—housed in a large pool (pictured below) where he could socialize with California Sea Lions and Northern Fur Seals—he gained over 150 lbs, and developed skills he'd need to survive on his own in the wild (Stellers at this age would still be learning these skills from their mom).

SSL-at-TMMC-in-poolPhoto reproduced courtesy of The Marine Mammal Center

On April 17, the eight-month-old, 300 lb male Steller sea lion pup was transported back to Washington by WDFW – and PAWS was along for the ride. During his transport the Steller rested peacefully in his transport crate, intermittently watching the world go by through the small slats (see below). Though he made sure to announce his presence every time the team stopped for gas or food along the way!


He was released near where he was rescued on the Southwest coast. Before his release he was affixed with a GPS transmitter that will allow biologists to track his movements and see how he is does in the future.

Currently he’s off the coast of the Olympic Peninsula. You can track his movements too using this link.


Although Steller Sea Lions are no longer federally listed in the Pacific Northwest, they are still a very important part of the marine ecosystem and are still threatened by habitat degradation, ship strikes and over fishing.


We were thrilled to be a part of this collaborative effort between NOAA, WDFW, Seattle Aquarium, TMMC and the U.S. Coast Guard – rehabilitating and returning this Steller Sea Lion back to Washington waters where he belongs.

Found a marine mammal you think needs help? Find out what to do.

Help us continue providing care to wild animals in need. Donate here.

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

By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

You may wonder what all the chatter is about every morning outside your windows. Well it’s officially breeding season for birds in Washington, and adults have been busily building nests, protecting territories, and trying to attract mates for weeks.

With the onset of the breeding season comes the opening of the baby bird nursery (pictured below) at PAWS Wildlife Center. Last year alone we successfully raised and released over 160 baby songbirds encompassing 20 different species. So far this year, we already have more than 30 chirping, hungry babies to care for.


The care and survival of these babies is placed in the hands of our wonderful volunteers, who work diligently from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day feeding and cleaning. It's quite a task to keep up with, as different age groups and species of birds require different levels of care.

Some of our patients need to be fed every 15 minutes, others every two hours. Some bird diets consist of seeds while others (like that of the Red-winged Blackbird chick pictured below) consist of insects.


There's a delicate balance between the type of food, the amount of food, and time in between feedings that has to be managed for each baby bird. And all of these factors play a crucial role in the growth and development of each bird.

Another important factor in raising wild baby birds is the environment they're raised in. Our babies are often paired with conspecifics (others of the same species) or with other species that are similar in their dietary needs.


Their enclosures are full of native vegetation (see an example above, with Stellers Jay babies) which allows them to learn natural perching and hiding behaviors. In the background, instead of hearing human voices, they hear Northwestern songbird calls recorded by one of our very own volunteers.

With the right amount of food, time and care—combined with the proper environment—our once small, fragile hatchlings grow into strong sub adult birds that are then released back to the wild near where their parents originally set up house.

Want to join our team of Bird Nursery Caretakers? All the info you need is here. 

Found a baby bird in need? Find out how PAWS can help.

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

By Sean Twohy, PAWS Wildlife Center Volunteer

When I signed up to be a volunteer at PAWS Wildlife Center, I had no expectation that I would ever actually see animals. I assumed that volunteers were there to wash dishes and do laundry.

My first day as a volunteer, I peered through the window of an operating room and watched as the staff brushed out the fur of a small woolly bear cub.

The next shift, I held a crow as it was given daily meds, felt a gust of wind from the wings of a Bald Eagle, and scrubbed the shell of a Western Pond Turtle.

Last week, I fed baby squirrels (see picture below). Soon, a flood of other baby animals will arrive and I'll be given new training and new experiences.


Hands-on Experience & A Shared Goal
PAWS makes it very clear that the number one priority is successfully rehabilitating and releasing wild animals—nothing is more important to each member of the staff. What I quickly realized was that volunteers are seen an integral part of that process.

Volunteers are treated as future co-workers and, wherever possible, staff members take the time to involve them in the process of rehabilitating.

From feeding and cleaning animals, to medicating and providing enrichment activities, the staff works to shape each volunteer into knowledgeable members of the team.

Helping You Help the Environment
Along with receiving amazing amounts of hands-on training, volunteers are encouraged to use their time at PAWS to facilitate goals and guide their passions. Internships are available for a wide variety of objectives and the staff is eager to see every volunteer achieve their goals.


Volunteering at PAWS is a chance to gain real experience while doing something important for wildlife. From the beginning, PAWS has stepped up to provide me with means to reach my goals.

Pictured, right (images by students at The Arts Institute of Seattle): whether it's through DIY, dog cuddling, laundry or lost and found support, volunteers contribute so much to PAWS! 

From working with wildlife to writing, they have given me—and created for me—opportunities to grow, both as a professional and as a member of the community.

I have only been here a little over three months, and can already see my strengths being leveraged and nourished. While the immediate gratification of working with wildlife and helping the environment is amazing, I am even more humbled by PAWS’ larger commitment to the future of its staff and volunteers.

Thanks for this great insight into volunteering at PAWS, Sean! If—after reading this—you're inspired to get involved, follow the links below for more details or email volunteer@paws.org.

Volunteer at PAWS and help make a difference to the lives of our wild neighbors.

Inspired by our work? Make a gift and help us continue providing a safe haven for wildlife in need.

By Katherine Spink, PAWS Staff

When you come across a wild animal you believe to be injured or orphaned, it’s only natural to want to try and help.

At this time of year, the telephones at PAWS Wildlife Center are starting to ring more frequently with calls from concerned and compassionate members of the public, looking for advice on helping a wild animal they’ve found.

From a Dark-eyed Junco baby found under a Range Rover at a car dealership, to an opossum mom and babies attacked by a dog, we deal with many different situations every day of the week. It’s safe to say there’s never a dull moment on the front lines of wildlife rehabilitation here at PAWS!

We also get a lot of general questions about wild animal behavior, and requests for information about how people can live more harmoniously with their wild neighbors. Here are just a few of the most frequently-asked questions during springtime:

Why is a Robin attacking my window?
This is very common in the spring during nesting season. Robins (pictured below) are very territorial, and when the bird sees his reflection in the window he thinks it’s another Robin competing for his space!

They don’t typically injure themselves during this behavior, so just hang in there. The behavior should end once the chicks have fledged.


Help! I found a wild baby abandoned on the ground/out of its nest. What should I do?
“Abandoned isn't a term we typically use when referring to wildlife babies. This is because wildlife parents do not usually desert their offspring but will leave them alone while they search for food.” comments Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist.

It’s important to understand that not all baby wild animals found alone—with no mom or dad in sight—are orphaned, injured, or in need of help. It's completely natural for wildlife parents to leave their babies alone for several hours at a time while they search for food.

As you can imagine, it's pretty tough raising wildlife babies – especially for those species that have more than one offspring at a time (the Mallard Duck family pictured below is just one example). They have high nutrient requirements in order to grow up strong and healthy in a short amount a time. 


Instead of taking their young with them while they forage, parents generally leave them hidden in a centralized location where they'll be safe.

It's always best to keep wild families together and let the natural parents raise their young. They know exactly what their babies need to survive and how to protect them.

PAWS’ website has flow charts that can help you determine whether a baby mammal or baby bird needs to be rescued or not. If you’re still unsure and would like advice from our experts at PAWS Wildlife Center, please call us on 425.412.4040 before approaching the animal or taking any action.


I’m being dive-bombed by crows. What’s that about?
This is common in spring and summer during nesting season. The birds are upset because they have young they’re trying to protect (see picture above). The good news is this situation is temporary and will stop when the young have fledged.

If you have to go outdoors, try wearing a hat, using an umbrella or modifying your behavior by using a different exit/entrance. In some cases, crows will eventually realize that you’re not a threat and discontinue the dive-bombing.

If you have a burning question about the behavior of wildlife in your neighborhood, email us for guidance and we may just include the details in a future blog like this one!

Interested in learning more about peacefully coexisting with your wild neighbors? Join us for our free Wildlife-Friendly Homes & Yards event at Shoreline Library on Wednesday, April 22.

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

By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

At PAWS Wildlife Center we receive hundreds of birds each year, but you may not know that one of the biggest dangers they face is plate glass windows. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that windows in homes and offices kill as many as one billion birds each year. This year PAWS has already received 30 birds who were victims of window strikes, and we continue to receive more every week.

There are many reasons birds fly into windows. Raptors such as Peregrine Falcons or Cooper’s Hawks, who forage on birds, may accidentally fly into a window when perusing prey. Other birds see the reflection of the sky in the glass and mistake it for a clear path.


Window strikes can happen day or night and cause a variety of injuries. Some birds become stunned for a short period of time and fly away, only to succumb to internal injuries later. Others may have broken bones making them more vulnerable to predators.

A male Red Crossbill (pictured right) was recently brought to PAWS after he struck a window.

You may think by just looking at him that something is wrong with his bill. But this is how his bill grows naturally and is not the result of any injuries. 

Crossbills are seed specialists and their unique bill type allows them to manipulate cones and retrieve seeds easily.

Our Crossbill patient was found on the ground, unresponsive; he had a bruised chest and was very weak. After just two days of supportive care, sadly he succumb to his injuries. 

However, not all impacts are fatal and with the proper care some birds do recover from window strikes. A recent success story involved a Pileated Woodpecker we received on March 29.

After flying into a window, he was found trying to hide in ivy unable to fly. The result of his impact was bilateral paresis (partial paralysis prohibiting him from being able to walk or fly) and a spinal lesion.

It was touch and go for this woodpecker throughout his treatment. But, after just 15 days—during which time, as you'll see from the video below, he got to work drilling lots of holes on the special woodpecker boards in his enclosure—he was deemed healthy enough for release.

On April 13 he was released into a small forested area near where he was found and, within seconds, he was on top of a snag riddled with woodpecker holes, looking for his mate.

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

You may be wondering how you can prevent window strikes at your home or office. Well you’re in luck; there are many ways to help our bird neighbors and make windows more visible.

  • Use decals, tinting or other methods to reduce reflection such as a liquid UV marker.
  • Hang wind socks, chimes, mobiles, or other objects in front of windows to obstruct birds’ view of reflection.
  • Do not place bird feeders near windows.
  • Cover the glass with one way transparent film.

For more information about window strikes and how to prevent them, check out the helpful resources on our website and AllAboutBirds.org.

Want to learn more about peaceful coexistence with wildlife? Join us for our free Wildlife-friendly Homes and Yards event, April 22!

Volunteer at PAWS and help make a difference to the lives of our wild neighbors.

Inspired by our work? Make a gift and help us continue providing a safe haven for wildlife in need.

By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

What better day to talk about beavers than International Beaver Day? PAWS Wildlife Center has rehabilitated and released several beavers over the years, and has been fortunate to be involved in beaver research taking place right here in Washington.

Beavers at PAWS

Beavers sometimes get a bad rap when in fact they're actually a very important species and vital to the health of watersheds

Given their nocturnal habits you may never have seen a beaver in the wild, but I'm sure you will have seen their handy work! 

Beavers are environmental engineers, meaning they can alter the environment they live in – creating better habitat for plants and other animals.

This engineering capability is shown through their very precise and strategic way of building dams and lodges.

These dams trap and hold water, creating a complex of deep and shallow ponds and braided stream channels. These waterways are then used by fish, birds, mammals, and amphibians for nesting, foraging, and protection from predators. 

Beaver dams also slow down erosive flood waters, improve water quality, and recharge groundwater.

Although beavers are important for a healthy ecosystem, we'll admit they can sometimes be hard to live with. There is research currently being conducted to figure out ways people can coexist better with them, and at the same time use their natural talents to restore habitat and ecosystem processes that have been destroyed.

We've been fortunate to work with The Sky Beaver Project—a collaboration between Beavers Northwest and the Tulalip tribe—on just this kind of research in Washington.

One of the goals of the project is to relocate nuisance beavers from the Puget Sound lowlands into headwater streams in the Skykomish River watershed (where beavers are scarce).

By doing so, it's possible to restore habitat in areas where the sediment has been disturbed, to alter the hydrology, and to help reduce the impacts of climate change.


In relocating nuisance beavers, The Sky Beaver Project first works closely with landowners to try and manage them, using non-lethal controls such as installing pond leveling and exclusion devices. If that doesn’t work, beavers are trapped and relocated for the study.

Beavers are captured at night and transported to a husbandry facility where they are held for a short period of time before being released in the Skykomish watershed. This gives ample time for the researchers to catch an entire family, or play match maker with any individuals they catch alone!

Before the beavers can be transported to their new home, researchers spend lots of time scouting out the best possible release sites. They try to find an area that has:

  • Ample food available
  • Potential for the beavers to convert the site into a pond
  • A site away from people and infrastructure

When the perfect site is located, researchers build a makeshift lodge out of sticks to release the beavers into. Watch footage of two beavers being released into their new home last year:

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

This lodge provides protection while the beavers settle into their new territory. The researchers then monitor the beavers after their release using wildlife cameras.

With the success of research projects like this one, it is possible to restore upland waterways to historic levels and, as a result, increase the habitat quality for animals and humans alike.

For more information on this project—and other research being conducted by Beavers Northwest—visit their website at www.beaversnw.org.

Volunteer at PAWS and help make a difference to the lives of our wild neighbors.

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

Inspired by our work? Make a gift and help us continue providing a safe haven for wildlife in need.

By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

The hustle and bustle of the spring season has begun at PAWS Wildlife Center, and with it comes a need for more people to help with the daily care of our wild patients. In fact, the number of people we need during spring and summer more than doubles compared with the rest of the year!


Right now we're caring for twice as many baby mammals as last week, our outdoor enclosures are starting to fill up, and we're putting the finishing touches to our baby bird nursery which will open in May.

Our first veterinarian extern of the season has arrived (pictured right, palpating an eagle patient's wing for a break in between x-rays); she’ll spend the next four weeks working closely with our veterinary team and animal care staff. 

Each year PAWS welcomes veterinarian externs from across the U.S. to participate in and learn valuable wildlife care techniques in our wildlife hospital.

As well as assisting with surgeries, externs receive hands on experience in wildlife ethics, capture and restraint, parasitology, and radiology.

It's a great environment for gaining skills, experience and an insight into caring for a variety of species they may encounter again as their careers develop. 

As things have picked up, our permanent rehabilitation staff have been kept increasingly busy – caring not only for current patients but also for the new patients arriving on a daily basis.

From bobcats and bears who've spent the winter here, to opossum and squirrel babies who are some of our newest patients, there are all manner of feeding, cleaning, and care schedules to oversee.


Looks like our seasonal wildlife staff have arrived just in time! Having joined us from wildlife rehabilitation centers across the country, they've begun their training and are quickly getting up to speed on animal care so they can help lighten the load.

In addition to our externs and seasonal staff, the number of volunteers working at the center has also started to increase. Newly-recruited volunteers are being trained every week and shifts are filling up fast. By the end of May we'll have roughly 200 volunteers working at the center on a weekly basis!

We're very fortunate that so many generous, kind people want to spend their free time helping to care for our wild patients. Volunteers are a vital part of animal care here at PAWS, and we couldn’t do what we do without them!

We're excited to bring you more stories about our volunteers and wildlife center patients as the season progresses. In the meantime, if you're interested in getting involved, follow the links below for information on how.

Volunteer at PAWS and help make a difference to the lives of our wild neighbors.

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

Inspired by our work? Make a gift and help us continue providing a safe haven for wildlife in need.

With spring upon us, now’s the perfect time to breathe new life into your backyard. 
Whether you’re attacking the ever-emerging weeds, trimming back your shrubs, manicuring that lawn, or going for a top-to-toe landscaping makeover, there’s lots to be done.

And, this year, why not spare a thought for the wild neighbors who might stop by and enjoy the fruits of your labor, as well as the friends and family who will kick back and relax there this summer?

There are lots of reasons why having a wildlife-friendly yard is a good idea.

It makes the whole space more vibrant, more engaging, more beautiful – and at the same time helps preserve plant and animal species, increase natural diversity, control insect populations, and educate others on the wonders of the natural world!

Bee on flower

Here are some of our top tips for creating an outdoor space that’s as much fun for humans as it is for wild animals:

Think native.
It’s like eating locally-sourced food – not only does it make you feel good, keeping things native is good for our ecosystem and for conservation efforts.

Native plants such as lupines, vine maple, cascade Oregon grape and butterfly bushes are all great options for attracting a variety of wild species, from butterflies and bees to birds and small mammals.

The Washington Native Plant Society has a handy list of native plants by county, which you can browse and download here.

Natural is best.
Where possible, consider all the natural sources of food, water and shelter your yard has to offer, and maximize these.

Whether you have bushes bursting with tasty berries, tree trunks with snags that make great nesting spots, or a place where water naturally collects – these are all fantastic, low-maintenance, natural options for your wild visitors.


Take hummingbirds as an example. While we’re not suggesting the plastic feeders you can buy from your local garden store are a bad idea, you might consider planting a species of red flowering currant instead. Hummingbirds love plants with tubular flowers – and planting like this will bring a wonderful burst of natural color to your yard!

(One word of advice with hummingbirds – if you do choose a shop-bought feeder, don’t hang lots of them close together. Hummingbirds are very territorial, and we’ve seen patients brought into PAWS Wildlife Center who’ve sustained injuries from these feisty encounters! Also, avoid using red dye to attract them as this is toxic.)

Nutrient-rich fallen tree trunks, known as “nurse logs”, are also a hive of activity. They provide food and hydration for a variety of insects and plants, not to mention a luxury home for a variety of insects, beetles and fungi.


Fancy a weekend off from mowing your lawn?
Your wild neighbors say no problem! Species like voles and rabbits (pictured, right top) actually prefer it this way as it gives them more ground cover while they’re moving around, making them less visible to predators.

Likewise with fallen leaves – don’t feel you have to rush out with the rake every day (or, if you do, leave some piled up in a discreet corner).

Frogs, salamanders and other small creatures use them in a variety of ways, from nest materials to that perfect hiding spot.

Look out for creative nesters!
With nest-building already underway for many species here in the Pacific Northwest, be careful to check for nests in unusual places.

Here at PAWS, we’ve found them in among hose pipes, electrical boxes (pictured, right center) and even light fixtures!

Considering providing a nesting box? Click here for some tips on nesting box success from the National Wildlife Federation.

Equipment that's been out of action over the winter can also bring surprises when uncovered for the warmer weather.

Raccoons, for example, love setting up home in boats – they’ve even been known to take a shine to hot tubs as nesting spots of choice!

If you come across an animal’s home that’s in a seemingly hazardous location, please don’t disturb it before seeking advice.

You can call us here at PAWS on 425.412.4040 or—if you’re outside Washington State—contact the National Wildlife Rehabilitator’s Association or the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council for guidance on rehabilitation centers in your area that can help.

I live in an apartment and my “yard” is a balcony. What can I do?
You don’t have to live on a multi-acre property in the middle of nowhere to encourage and enjoy wildlife.

In an apartment setting, native flowers and plants in containers and small water features (see an innovative wall-mounted design, pictured right) are both great ideas. 

Feeders that are regularly emptied/not overfilled will also attract local birds – without encouraging less desirable visitors such as rats looking for an easy feed!

Want to learn more about peaceful coexistence with our wild neighbors? Join our in-house expert, Wildlife Admissions Specialist Cindy Kirkendall, at Shoreline Library on Wednesday, April 22 for Wildlife-friendly Homes & Yards: Living Harmoniously with Wildlife.

In short, making a few wildlife-friendly choices along the way—whatever space you have to work with—will not only result in a beautiful outdoor area you can enjoy with family and friends. More than likely, it will come alive with wild visitors too!


More questions about wildlife-friendly living? Email us.

Found an injured or sick wild animal in WA? Call us on 425.412.4040 as soon as possible, or use our online resources to find out how PAWS can help.

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