Bob Danley of the Bitterroot Outdoor Journal started 2019 with a personal field trip west and north of Missoula. From his previous experience, he was not surprised to find some winter finches and raptors. The Rough-legged Hawk (see photo above) was one of four raptor species he saw. The Red Crossbill was one of 23 species of finches he spotted while he travelled around the former Smurfit Stone property and at Council Groves State Park. Surprises included four Killdeer birds in the Clark Fork River (scroll down to photo), three species of nuthatch at Council Groves and a long-tailed Weasel in a ditch in the area. Bob advises to plan your wildlife watching goals and know what birds to expect in which season. But be ready for surprises - like the killdeer.

Bob also mentioned a book for those days when a fireplace and a comfortable chair are calling to you. It's by Colin Tudge - "The Bird: A Natural History of Who Birds Are, Where They Came From and How They Live." Enjoy your time outside!

Killdeer along the Clark Fork River of Montana in January. (Bob Danley Photo)