A coot making a splashdown at one of the ponds of the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge is a sight that can be seen this time of year. There always seems to be some open, ice-free water at the Metcalf.

This weekend is the first of three area Christmas Bird Count days. Saturday, December 16, members of the Bitterroot Audubon Society and other volunteers will be counting in a circular area centered at the Ravalli County Airport east of Hamilton.

The main meeting place for the crew will be Teller Refuge north of Corvallis, just off the East Side Highway. Beginner bird counters will be paired up with experienced watchers. Meet there by 7:30 a.m. At noon, the traditional chili and Oreos lunch will be provided at the Teller, before crews head back out for an afternoon count.

You can also count birds if you have a backyard feeder. Count the birds at your feeder for the entire day, or for a few hours or minutes when you can take the time during the day. Report your findings to Colleen Powell, the feeder watcher coordinator, at 363-2116. Call Colleen at 363-2116 if you need more information about the 31st annual Hamilton Christmas Bird Count.

The Stevensville Christmas Bird Count, which includes the Metcalf Refuge, will be December 30. The count area is centered at the Stevensville Ranger Station on the north end of Stevensville.

And, January 2, the Bitterroot Audubon Society will have a caravan of cars heading over to count birds in an area of the Big Hole. For more information check the Bitterroot Audubon website. A Bitterroot Audubon calendar is a great Christmas gift, by the way.

One other note, a Beginners Bird Walk will be this Saturday, December 16, at the Metcalf, starting at 10 a.m. Dress warmly.

Walking on water.
A safe landing for a Coot. (Mike Daniels, Townsquare Media)