341 posts categorized in "Wildlife"

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?

750 px Dark-eyed Junco  KM

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.

750 px NSWO 112745 in AV KM

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.

750 px Black-capped Chickade KM

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.

750 px American Black Bear 154038 11242015

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.

By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

A large construction project is underway on I-90 just east of Snoqualmie Pass. The result of this project will be a six-lane highway that will increase the flow of traffic, making the road safer for people traveling in this corridor. 

But what about the animals that live in the area?

Black Bear 120790 release, 060513 KM-5-2

When planning for this project, several organizations including Conservation Northwest and the Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) looked at the impacts this barrier has on the surrounding habitat and wildlife.

I-90 bisects the Cascades, inhibiting movement of wildlife in the area. Widening the highway would make it even harder for wild animals to find new mates and new habitat when environmental conditions change. With this in mind, one of WSDOT’s goals for the I-90 expansion project was to improve connectivity for wildlife.

WSDOT has included more than 20 crossing structures in their plan, including wildlife underpasses and the first wildlife bridges in Washington. These structures have been proven to work in other areas across the country and in Canada.

The first phase of this project consists of underpasses that will allow wildlife safe passage under the highway. They feature long stretches of raised highway and wildlife-sized culverts that are wide enough for larger mammals to pass through, as well as structures smaller animals can use for safe passage. They also allow streams and creeks to keep flowing, which helps amphibian and fish populations.


Blog underpass overpass
Wildlife undercrossing at Gold Creek courtesy of Conservation Northwest. Artist's rendering of wildlife overpass courtesy of Washington State DOT.


Phase 2, which began on June 9th, includes constructing the first ever wildlife bridges in Washington. These 150-foot-wide overpasses will allow safe passage for wildlife over I-90 and will be fully vegetated with native plants and shrubs to give animals the illusion that they never left the protection of the forest. WSDOT plans to build two of these bridges along the I-90 corridor and they are expected to be completed in the fall of 2019.

Agencies will be monitoring the effectiveness of these structures using remote cameras to determine how often and when they are being used. Some of the wildlife underpasses are already completed and being monitored. Check out some of the images on Conservation Northwest’s website.

Bobcat 122278, release, 051513 KM-9-Edit-2

This groundbreaking wildlife connectivity project will not only help improve the overall health of the wildlife in the Cascades but also help keep them off the interstate, improving the safety of wildlife and humans alike. We at PAWS Wildlife Center see firsthand the effects of road collations on animals: In the past five years we have received more than 500 patients who were hit by a vehicle, many of whom were too injured to be released back to the wild.

This project is a great start to making our roadways safer and keeping our wild habitats connected to ensure a healthy future for wildlife.

For more information about this project, check out these useful sites:


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, PAWS Naturalist

As fall is in full swing our summer residents are being released back to the wild. All 44 of our Raccoons have been released and the deer are awaiting their release scheduled for next week. During early October our four Harbor Seal pup patients were returned to the wild after growing up at the PAWS Wildlife Center. Here are their stories.

Harbor Seal-09032015-JM

Harbor Seal 15-2200 was the first to arrive at PAWS this year. He was a very small seal estimated to only be a few days old when found on a busy part of the beach in Lincoln Park. After being observed for several days by the Seal Sitters, NOAA Fisheries granted them permission to bring him into PAWS for rehabilitation. Upon arrival he weighed 18.5 pounds and had multiple puncture wounds on his flippers and head.

Harbor Seal 15-2800 was our last seal patient of the season and arrived on July 25th. She was found on a beach near a boat launch in Poulsbo. It was reported to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife that someone dumped the pup off at a boat launch and others were moving her around on the beach. When 2800 arrived she was only 16 pounds and was thin and dehydrated. 


Once they had been quarantined and were eating fish on their own 2200 and 2800 were combined into one pool which they shared for the remainder of their care. On Oct 9th both seals were released together near a known Harbor Seal haul out with some help from the Coast Guard Auxiliary. 

Harbor Seal 15-2427 was a young female pup found abandoned near Allyn and brought to us by NOAA Fisheries on July 6th. She was seen on the beach alone for 3 days not going in the water and was reported to NOAA Fisheries. Upon arrival at PAWS she was just over 16lbs, was thin and had several soft tissue wounds on her head, flipper and in her mouth.

Harbor Seal 2427 & 2655 release 10122015 RC (31a)

Harbor Seal 15-2655 was also brought to PAWS Wildlife Center by NOAA Fisheries and arrived on July 17th.  He was found on a busy beach near Olympia. No attending adult was seen with the pup for a 24 hour period of time and people started to approach and touch him. 

He was estimated to just be 2 or 3 days old and weighed almost 24 lbs upon his arrival at PAWS. Other than being dehydrated and thin he had no wounds or injuries.

Harbor seals 2427 and 2655 also shared a pool for the majority of their stay with us and on October 12th both seals were released together with the help of NOAA Fisheries.

Fun facts about our summer seal patients:

15-2200 was the biggest seal this season weighing in at over 68 lbs upon his release.

15-2427 quickly established herself as the feistiest of all of our seal patients this season and would not hesitate to snap her jaws when approached for exams.  

15-2427 and 15-2655 became inseparable and were spotted swimming together shortly after their release.

15-2800 was our smallest seal this season weighing just over 55 lbs upon her release.

If you happen to see an injured seal on the beach or a seal being harassed by people or dogs please contact Sno-King Marine Mammal Response at 206.695.2277 or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Seal Hotline at 1.866.767.6114. 

Remember it is illegal to approach and touch seals and all other marine mammals. 


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 Anne Heron, PAWS Wildlife Center Intern

I’ve been volunteering at PAWS Wildlife Center for over a year now. I initially started at PAWS because I was familiar with their Companion Animal Shelter, where my family adopted our dog, and I had been developing an interest in wildlife. I’d heard great things about the Wildlife Center so I decided to become a volunteer and see if it was something I would like. Now, I’m just about to finish my summer internship and I’ve really enjoyed my time at PAWS. I feel I’ve grown tremendously since I started as a volunteer, knowing little about wildlife, to now being trained in just about every area of the Wildlife Center.  

This summer I spent my time between three internships: wildlife rehabilitation, avian wildlife rehabilitation, and wildlife releases. Each one was unique and offered its own skills and experiences.  

Peregrine Falcon Handling 07032015 JM (8)

In wildlife rehabilitation I learned basic skills like administering daily medications and fluids, as well as preparing various diets. I would say that this aspect of the wildlife center had the most variety. I found myself doing so many different things in one day ranging from cleaning to daily medical care to grounds maintenance projects. This is also where I interacted with the most species and got a lot of practice with my handling skills, which was my favorite part about Wildlife Care Assistant work.

Dark-eyed Junco nestlings-BBN

As an avian wildlife rehabilitation intern I was in charge of the baby bird nursery. My duties included administering medications and fluids, keeping the feeding board and cage cards updated, and monitoring the health of each bird. I also learned different techniques and methods for handling and feeding different bird species based on size, as well as the different diets associated with each species. 

I really love birds so my favorite part about the baby bird nursery was being able to see all of the different types of birds that came in, being able to identify them, and learn what enclosure set-ups and diets are particular to each species.  

Peregrine Falcon Release-02

Being an intern for the naturalist was by far my favorite position at PAWS. It allowed me to see a different side of wildlife rehabilitation and helped me think more about what happens to the animals we care for after they’re released. Some of my duties included accompanying the naturalist and rehabber on their rounds to determine which patients were ready for release, locating release sites for patients based on proximity to the location they were found and resources available at that site, and helping the naturalist with releases.  

This was the most interesting internship to me because it allowed me to learn a lot about each species and how they interact with their environment. It gave another dimension to wildlife rehabilitation that you don’t usually think about while caring for each patient in the center.

Osprey 152722 Release -01

The reason I chose to intern in so many different areas was to explore my career interests. I knew I wanted to work with wildlife but wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do. Now after experiencing everything this summer, I know that while I really enjoy the medical and handling aspect of wildlife rehabilitation, I want to learn more about field and naturalist work because I love learning about the natural history of each species and seeing how they interact with the world, and I also really enjoy animal behavior as well as observing animals in the field. I’m so grateful for the experience I’ve had as a PAWS intern. 

I know that all of the skills and information I’ve learned here will be of use to me in my future and I plan on continuing to volunteer in order to keep up with my skills and to keep having valuable encounters with wildlife.


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.

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

By Jen Mannas, PAWS Naturalist

As fall approaches things are winding down from a very busy summer at PAWS Wildlife Center. Although all of our spring baby birds are gone, we are still caring for some of our spring baby mammals, in particular Coyotes, Raccoons and deer. 

All three of these species spend a lot more time with their mothers than baby birds do so they need a little extra time in our care before they are old enough to survive on their own.


Three female coyote pups have been in our care since the beginning of June. Each was orphaned and found alone too young to survive on their own. When they arrived they were just over three months old and were very thin and dehydrated.


Although they originated from different locations they have been raised as siblings since shortly after arriving at PAWS. Each has their own personality and they spend their days romping around and playing when not taking naps and hiding.

Through enrichment provided by our staff they have learned valuable survival skills they will use when released back to the wild next week.  



We have also cared for forty-four Raccoons this summer, all of whom were orphaned or sick when they arrived. We received our first Raccoon at PAWS near the end of April and the last youngster of the year arrived on September 2nd.  


These little ones spent the beginning of their time with us in their own special Raccoon nursery being raised by our staff, interns and advanced volunteers. Once old enough they headed outside to the silos where they now reside awaiting release.

When many of them arrived they were only half a pound and their eyes were still closed. Now they are curious subadults who spend their days exploring enrichment items, searching for food in their enclosure and sleeping in a pile.

Raccoon releases will begin near the end of September and continue into October.    



All six of our deer patients are doing great and are starting to lose their baby spots. Luckily their large enclosure did not suffer any damage from the high winds that hit Lynnwood a few weeks ago and they are still able to roam through the brush and hide amongst the salmon berry. Our staff is kept busy cutting fresh browse for them daily to help them grow big and strong enough for their late October release.  

Black Tailed Deer young

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, PAWS Naturalist

As fall starts to rear its head in the Pacific Northwest birds are preparing for the winter. Some are getting ready to travel to a far off place while others will be hunkering down locally.

What better way to celebrate all the amazing birds that live right here in Puget Sound area than attending a couple festivals this weekend. PAWS will be present at both events to celebrate and help educate people about our surroundings and the amazing creatures that live in it.

Rufous Hummingbird (left) and Barn Owls (right)

Puget Sound Bird Festival in Edmonds (Sept 11-13)

Puget Sound Bird Fest is a free annual three day event to celebrate birds and nature found on the shores of Puget Sound. This event is geared towards all ages and includes guest speakers, guided walks, field trips, exhibits and educational activities.

Events kick off Friday September 11th at 7:30pm at the Edmonds Plaza Room (650 Main Street) with keynote speaker Dr. John Marzluff, from the University of Washington, presenting on living with birds in an urban setting and the rich bird diversity being preserved in the suburbs and city parks.

Wood Duck (left) and Belted Kingfisher (right)

Saturday and Sunday are packed full of events including birding cruises and guided walks, low tide beach walks, photography workshops and talks by local bird researchers.

There will also be vendors and booths full of information about local organizations and wildlife.

Swift Night Out in Monroe (Sept 12)

Another free event happening in conjunction with Puget Sound Bird Fest is Swift Night Out in Monroe.

This event celebrates the return of Vaux’s Swifts to the Wagner Center chimney. This is a short stop over for Vaux’s Swifts as they migrate south for the winter. As many as 26,000 swifts have been observed entering this 31 foot tall, 4 square foot chimney. This amazing natural event occurs annually in Monroe and is the 2nd largest Vaux’s Swift roost in America.

Vaux's Swift on wall 082605 KM-edit

This event runs from 5:00 pm until dusk and will host information booths from local organizations, fun activities for kids and food will be available for purchase.

Bring a blanket or lawn chair to watch the show.

PAWS will have staffed booths at both events so stop on by and say hi!

We look forward to seeing you there!

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, PAWS Naturalist

One of the most commonly seen city birds around the world is the Rock Pigeon. You typically see these gray birds with shimmery heads perched on roof tops and in parks waiting to snag their next meal. Rock Pigeons are a non-native species in the U.S., introduced into North America from Europe in the 17th century. They are very adaptable and thrive in urban areas.

However, did you know that there is species of pigeon that is native to North and South America and can be seen right here in Washington?

Band-tailed Pigeon 100105 in Ekker Cage, 042910 (2) KM

Band-tailed Pigeons are a more elusive pigeon that prefers the quiet life of the forest but will sometimes venture out of the woods to more urban areas to forage. They look quite different than your typical pigeon; they are a soft blue-gray above and purplish-gray below with a white crescent on the back of the neck. They are named for the pale gray band on the tip of their tail. 

Band Tailed Pigeon 04102015 JM (5)

The diet of the Band-tail Pigeon includes seeds, fruits, acorns, pine nuts and flowers of woody plants. They can travel 3 miles a day to find food. Nesting in trees, the nest is constructed by both the male and female over a three to six day period. They only lay one or two eggs at a time but can do this up to 3 times during the breeding season.

BT Pigeon 040755 release 2 060204 SN29 KM

Every year we receive several Band-tailed Pigeons in need of care at PAWS Wildlife Center. Since 2003 we have released 176 of these birds back to the wild. Many come in as babies who are raised by our staff, others are victims of window strikes or cat attacks. This year we have already released eight and currently have three Band-tails in care including two orphaned youngsters.

All three Band-tails will be released just in time for their fall migration to central California. 

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, PAWS Naturalist

What’s happening in Washington this month? Large congregations of birds are starting to come together in preparation for their long journey south this fall.

Some of the more obvious congregations you will see, even in our urban environment, are those of swallows.

Barn Swallow Fledgling_blog Barn Swallow Fledgeling

Seven members of the swallow family breed in Washington each year (Violet-green, Cliff, Barn, Bank, Tree, Northern Rough-winged, and Purple Marten). You may have seen these birds swooping down like little fighter jets hunting for insects in open areas and seen their mud nests clinging to the sides of buildings and under bridges.

In late summer Swallows begin to join together on power lines along the road before they start their fall migration to Central and South America where insects are more abundant.

Cliff Swallow Trestle collage Jamie Bails photos
 Photo by: Jamie Bails WDFW Biologist

Some species of swallows, such as Violet-green and Cliff seem to thrive in urban environments and are seen there more readily. Recently Jamie Bails, a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Habitat Biologist, discovered a nesting colony of Cliff Swallows in the most unlikely of places; tucked underneath a trestle on State Route 2 between Everett and Snohomish (pictured above). You can find out more about this fascinating story at WDFW Crossing Paths August 2015.

Cliff swallows traditionally nest on cliff sides and inside canyons. The increase in concrete buildings and bridges has provided more habitat options. This has resulted in a expansion of their range and evolution toward a smaller body size with longer wingspan to help them avoid speeding cars.


Although Cliff Swallows are numerous in the Seattle area we rarely receive them at PAWS Wildlife Center, however we do frequently receive Violet-green Swallows aptly named for their purplish green coloration. This year we received over forty, twenty-nine of which were juveniles (pictured above). This is twice as many as we have ever received in any one year.

Violet-green Swallow_glove_smallSimilar to the Cliff Swallow, Violet-greens thrive in urban environments due to their preference for open areas. Dr. John Marzluff, an author and professor at University of Washington, states in his book Welcome to Subirdia that Violet-green Swallows are the “kings of Subirdia” making up eight percent of all birds living in developments after construction. In fact, swallows of all types are the one of the most abundant urban birds.

Violet-green’s ability to thrive in a more urban environment is attributed to their exploitation of human-made nest cavities in boxes, soffits and streetlamps.

As you spend these last weeks of summer enjoying the outdoors stop to take a look around you and see if you can spot any of these little swallows zipping through the air. I bet you will see some in the most unlikely of places.

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, PAWS Naturalist

What's the sleek medium-sized mammal who roams the forests near streams, rivers and ponds across much of the United States and Canada? It has a glossy fur coat, spends most of its time hunting for food, and has webbed feet...

It's the American Mink.

What you may not know is that American Mink are actually native to Washington and found state wide. Feeding on small mammals and fish, these carnivores are also excellent swimmers and will dive to 16 feet deep!  


Mink are part of the mustelidae, or weasel, family along with River Otters, Badgers, Martens, Ferrets, Wolverines and—of course—Weasels.

In the wild their rich glossy coat is dark brown, and they can be distinguished from other weasels by the white marking on their chin. Weighing just over two pounds, they have small ears and short stubby legs.

Mink are very territorial and will spray intruders with a foul smelling liquid much like skunks. We know, hard to believe looking at the innocent faces of these recent arrivals at PAWS Wildlife Center!


We rarely receive Mink here at PAWS, but this year we're caring for two youngsters.

In mid-May we received a two ounce baby male whose eyes were still closed. He was found lying under a bench on a boat dock in Bellevue. About a month later a female was transferred to us from Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. She was also found alone, too young to survive on her own.


It's extremely important that youngsters in care don't become habituated or too used to people. This can be dangerous for the animal and for humans. To help prevent that, Wolf Hollow and PAWS decided these two mink should grow up together and the female was transferred to us.

Can't see the video above? Try watching on our PAWS Wildlife Vimeo channel. 

The mink have been sharing an enclosure for several weeks now and love to play, hunt, explore and swim. With enrichment provided by our staff and volunteers they are learning skills they will need to survive when they are returned to the wild later this year.


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, PAWS Naturalist

As summer moves forward, things at PAWS Wildlife Center are getting busier and busier. We’re currently treating hundreds of patients and releasing them by the dozens every week. Our baby bird nursery is alive with the sounds of hungry chicks, from the pool pad you can hear the splashes of seal pups, and on top of the hill you can hear the rustling of deer fawns exploring.


Currently we’re raising five deer fawns in the seclusion of our deer pen. There are four Columbian Black-tailed Deer (pictured, above) from the west side of the Cascades, and one Mule Deer from the east side; all orphaned. Some were found on the side of the road after their mother was hit by a car while others were found alone, sick and dehydrated.

The first fawn came to us on May 24, right at the beginning of the deer birthing season. He was a small spotted fawn weighing only 7.5 pounds. Just four days later, a small female was transferred to us from Second Chance Wildlife Care Center in Snohomish, WA so they could grow up together and learn from each other.

By July 7, we were at capacity.


It’s very important when raising these deer fawns that they don’t become habituated to humans. To prevent this they’re housed in a large specialized deer pen that includes native plants for them to nibble on and hide in (pictured, above). This stimulates natural behaviors they’ll need to survive in the wild.

As the video below shows, there’s also a specialized bottle rack so we can feed them formula out of sight before they're weaned.

Can't see the video above? Trying watching on our PAWS Wildlife Vimeo channel.

With the traumatic experiences that brought them to PAWS behind them, all five deer are doing well. They move in a herd through their enclosure, exploring and snoozing under cover during the heat of the day.

They'll stay with us until the fall when they'll be strong enough and mature enough to return to the woodlands of Washington.

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.