Bitterroot Outdoor Journal – A Bird Seed Bank
You can still find Clark's Nutcrackers (see photo above) in the Bitterroot Valley, without having to travel into the backcountry. The bird is now caching pine seeds for winter. They can carry 150 seeds under their tongue and "plant" them as far as 7.5 miles away from where they pick 'em up. The bird can also find them during the winter. After six months, though, they don't have as much success. The Hamilton Christmas Bird Count holds the record for the most Clark's Nutcrackers seen in the state in the winter at 248. That was 10 years ago.
Bob Danley of the Bitterroot Outdoor Journal saw a Mourning Cloak butterfly (photo below), as it was looking for a place to spend the winter. It lives up to a year, which is a long, long time for a butterfly.
Recent wet weather has brought out some mushrooms. A small white mushroom with a long name is growing on Douglas Fir cones that have been lying around for a long time. The Strobilurus Trullisatus (photo below) is very small with a half-inch cap and about 2 inches tall on the forest floor. Also popping up in the rain are lichen, with the large Lungwort (detail photo below) that is found on rocks, trees and shrubs below 4,300 feet elevation. It looks like a green lung and is very leafy-looking. It's a useful plant and has medicinal properties and also has been used to produce orange dye.
The Bitterroot Outdoor Journal is heard Wednesdays at about 7:45 a.m. on the Bitterroot Morning newscast on 1240 AM KLYQ, on www.klyq.com and on the free KLYQ app on your favorite cellphone.