Wednesday, April 10, 2002

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Progressive Animal
Welfare Society

PO Box 1037
Lynnwood, WA 98046

Different Seasons, Different Challenges
by Kevin Mack, PAWS Wildlife Naturalist
Every Fall thousands of Snow Geese migrate South from their arctic breeding grounds to the Skagit Refuge and Flats in Southwestern Skagit County. There, in the company of swans, ducks and other migratory and resident bird species, they pass the winter months.As Spring approaches, they make the return trip North to mate and raise their young on the arctic tundra.Waterfowl are by no means the only animals following these regular patterns of seasonal movement.Many species of songbirds, raptors and seabirds are also migrating into and out of the state with the changing of the seasons, and some resident bird and mammal species show altitudinal movement associated with snowfall and subsequent melt.The movement pattern of each species has evolved over thousands of years, and seems to provide the animals with a way to cope with ever-changing climatic conditions.

A Turkey Vulture, brought to PAWS as a fledgling, flew free last week.

Turkey Vulture

A Turkey Vulture, brought to PAWS as a fledgling, flew free last week.

Although it has evolved over a much shorter period of time, a pattern of seasonal movement is also apparent within the PAWS Wildlife Department. As fall approaches PAWS prepares for an influx of seabirds. Grebes, loons, murres, fulmars, scoters, auklets and a variety of other species live or over-winter in the saltwater bays of Washington State. Over the course of the winter, it is not unusual for PAWS to receive 100 or more sick, injured or displaced seabirds, especially after major windstorms along the Pacific Coast. During the winter, the bulk of the activity at the wildlife center focuses on caring for our seabird patients and other sick and injured adult wildlife that we receive. Winter is also the time to catch up on projects and prepare for the coming spring.

As the animals in the state increase their activity in spring, so does the PAWS Wildlife Department. Spring marks the beginning of breeding season for many species and that means orphaned babies are soon to follow. Greater than 80% of all animals the PAWS Wildlife Department receives arrive between April and September, and the majority of these are babies. The babies are time and labor intensive, requiring hand feeding, cage cleaning and often very specialized care. In preparation for the influx of babies, new volunteer shifts are added, seasonal employees are hired and seabird caging is moved out and replaced with baby bird and mammal caging. As summer progresses, different species hatch their clutches or give birth to their litters and the staff and volunteers in the PAWS Wildlife Department continue to feed and care for an ever-changing array of hungry young animals.

As summer progresses towards fall, more and more of the babies reach the age of independence and are released back to the wild. Even before the last of the summer babies is released, however, the PAWS Wildlife Department staff are preparing for the coming fall and winter. As the Snow Geese return to the Skagit Flats with their young-of-the-year in tow, the PAWS Wildlife Department is once again ready for the fall/winter windstorm season and the inevitable challenges it will bring.

Wildlife Release tally: March 13 to April 2, 2002
1 Brewer's Blackbird
1 American Crow
1 Western Screech Owl
1 Barn Owl
1 Thayer's Gull
1 Turkey Vulture

Wildlife Release tally: 2002 Year to Date
49 mammals and birds

All rights reserved. 2002 Progressive Animal Welfare Society

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