314 posts categorized in "Wildlife"


By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

What one of our newest patients at PAWS Wildlife Center lacks in size, he more than makes up for in personality! 

This patient is Ruddy Duck #15-0135. Weighing in at just under one pound, he was found in a parking lot with wounds on his head, wings, and feet.

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Ruddy Ducks are very common in Washington; they breed in the eastern region and winter in the coastal region of the state.

Their unique breeding plumage and strange behavior has fascinated naturalists and birders alike since the early 1920’s.

During the breeding season the males sport a bright sky blue colored bill, white cheek patches on their black head and their body is a striking cinnamon color.

They are the only stiff tailed duck in Washington and the only duck that habitually holds its long black tail upright when surface swimming.

Ruddy Ducks also have very unique breeding behavior; the male will beat his bill against his chest creating vibrations in the water. These vibrations cause ripples and bubbles making his presence known to other ducks in the area.

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Despite being one of the smallest species of diving ducks in the United States, Ruddy Ducks are also one of the feistiest.

They are very aggressive toward other ducks and wildlife species. They have even been known to chase wildlife away that are feeding along shorelines.

We have definitely noticed some of that spunk in this Ruddy Duck patient!

When staff approach his pool for feedings he pulls back his neck, opens his bill and hisses (pictured, right); sometimes he even tries to charge us in his pool when we directly care for him.

After an initial round of wound management by our veterinary team this Ruddy Duck patient is doing well and spends his days swimming, diving, and preening in his pool (see the video below). 

The rehabilitation team have been working hard to keep him nutritionally and behaviorally healthy while his wounds heal and his waterproofing improves—both of which are vital for his release.

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

Patient update, February 19: with wounds fully healed and waterproofing assessed, our feisty Ruddy Duck patient was deemed ready for release and happily reintroduced to his natural habitat.

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By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

Welcome to a new segment we, at PAWS, like to call What’s Happening in Washington, where we bring you news about what's happening in our area relating to wildlife—including research, events, and ways you can get involved.

The month of February brings the 18th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). From February 13th to 16th The National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology are asking citizen scientists like you to help them count birds.

Every year the GBBC is conducted all over the world. In 2014, 142,051 participants from 135 countries counted over 17 million birds encompassing 4,300 different species. Pretty impressive!

Participation is easy, open to all age groups, and is a fun family activity. Register online for the GBBC, count birds in your yard for at least 15 minutes on one or more days during the GBBC and then enter your results on the GBBC website. It’s that simple.

You can even explore what others are seeing all over the world and take a look at the bird photographs submitted in real time.

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The data collected from the GBBC gives researchers a snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds all around the world. These counts are then combined with data from other projects to help researchers gain a better understanding of bird biology.

They can gain insight into how weather influences bird populations, changes in bird migrations, how diseases are affecting bird populations and how species diversity has changed.

At PAWS Wildlife Center we feel connected to this project because we receive almost two thousand backyard birds from the Seattle area every year.

Some of the birds you see in your backyard may have even been treated at PAWS (recent patients are pictured, right).

PAWS is happy to be participating in the GBBC this year and will be counting the wild birds living at our Lynnwood campus.

Lets all get outside this weekend, count birds and be citizen scientists! Let's see if we can get Washington in the top ten for the total number of participants in the United States (last year we were #14 with 3,356 participants).

For more information about the GBBC, and to get tips on how to identify bird species, please visit the official GBBC website.

Happy Birding!

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By Katherine Spink, PAWS Staff

Robbie Thorson started at PAWS as a volunteer, then progressed to an internship before becoming a Seasonal Assistant Wildlife Rehabilitator last summer.

A college graduate in biology, with a focus on ecology and evolution, Robbie will soon start his second six-month stint as a seasonal assistant rehabilitator. He takes us behind the scenes to reveal more about this vital hands-on role assisting permanent staff at PAWS Wildlife Center.

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So Robbie, what does your average day look like?
Although there’s a pattern to each shift—administering meds, feeding, helping with intake exams (pictured right with an Osprey patient), fixing cages, cleaning—every day seems different because of the variety of species we see coming in and their individual needs.

One of the more physical activities seasonal assistants are assigned is cleaning the seabird pools, which involves wearing some super trendy bright yellow personal protective equipment and jumping right in! Not so bad when there are seabirds recuperating, but we also use these pools for Harbor Seal patients—they’re not so house-proud!

We also work with the wildlife center interns, assigning them daily duties, so you get some people management experience as well.

What do you enjoy most about the job?
The thing I love most is the variety it provides—and the opportunity to get hands on with many species that I didn’t have the chance to work with as either a volunteer or intern. From bear cubs to Bobcats, Bald Eagles to Harbor Seals, every day brings a new and fascinating learning experience.

There’s also room for progression here. During my time in college I worked a lot with birds, which is great because we see many birds coming into PAWS Wildlife Center and I can apply my knowledge in a professional setting. But now I also have so much additional knowledge and experience thanks to assisting with the care of mammals, marine mammals, reptiles… whatever comes through the door in need of our help.

Undoubtedly one of the most rewarding things I experience first-hand is the transformation of a wild animal in need of urgent care to a healthy animal ready to go back into the wild. There can be touch and go moments along the way but when it comes to the release day (weeks or months later), you get an amazing buzz knowing you’ve had a part to play in that animal’s rehabilitation and return to its natural habitat.

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Robbie (far left) assisting with a raccoon release

Has there been a stand-out experience for you?
In October 2014, we were involved in the rehabilitation and care of a juvenile male Steller Sea Lion, found stranded on a beach in need of help. Caring for this species was a first for PAWS, and a pretty special moment in my time here!

As a seasonal assistant, I was called on to help with the handling of the sea lion—a great privilege. In his early days with us he was very weak and hardly struggled when we were needed to help with feeding or health checks, but just days later it took two or three people to handle him!

A few weeks after his arrival, I helped prepare him for transfer to a marine mammal center in California, where he would continue his rehabilitation with other sea lions. All in all—a pretty amazing experience, and an example of how varied this job can be. One day you’re syringe-feeding baby squirrels, the next you’re assisting with a Steller Sea Lion!

Watch footage of our first ever Steller Sea Lion, and his rehabilitation story, here.

Who would be well-suited to this role?
If you’re interested in wildlife rehabilitation as a career, I’d definitely recommend applying for this position at PAWS. You do hit the ground running when you start, so some prior experience would be helpful. I found it really useful to have started as a volunteer and worked my way up.

PAWS wildlife center is the only rehabilitation center in Washington State equipped with immediate and continual veterinary expertise and services, all in-house. It’s a great place to work, and a fantastic organization to have on your resume.

Think this might just be the right job for you? We’re accepting applications for this seasonal position (April 1-September 30 2015) until Friday, February 13. Find out more and apply today.


Find out more about wildlife rehabilitation at PAWS.
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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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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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