Last week, days before the recent snowstorms, Bob Danley of KLYQ's Bitterroot Outdoor Journal happened to see some green at the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge (see photo above) and it turned out to be the beginnings of a Sagebrush Buttercup. The little yellow flower is usually one of the first bloomers of the spring, but to see it in January means that after the cold and snow disappears (which it will), the buttercups will probably be blooming in early March near the Bitterroot River.

Bob also gave encouragement to those who are not seeing birds they expected to see this time of year. A bit of luck is required ... and patience. For example, look at the results from the Christmas Bird Counts. American Robins were not seen in the Hamilton count, but 162 were seen in Missoula and a record number of 54 for the Stevensville bird count. Bohemian Waxwings were not seen at Stevensville, but 13 were counted at Hamilton and ten at Missoula. Only one Northern Pygmy Owl was seen on the bird counts, but since then, Bob knows of four that have been seen between Missoula and Stevensville. The Northern Pygmy Owl is small, about seven inches long and can be seen in open wooded areas. (see photo below). This time of year, usually the little guy is surrounded by the calls of chickadees and nut hatches, who don't like any owls of any size in their territory.

The Bitterroot Outdoor Journal can be heard on KLYQ 1240 AM on Fridays at about 7:45 a.m. or during the hour-long Event Show at 8 a.m. And bob's Book of the Week for these cold winter days is ""A Field Guide to Getting Lost" by Rebecca Solnit.

The Northern Pygmy Owl is very small and blends in well with the tree branches. (bob Danley Photo)