Bitterroot Outdoor Journal – A Cold View
The harsh cold and snow of this Montana February brings a word of caution from Bob Danley of the Bitterroot Outdoor Journal. Bob suggests you look for wildlife in areas where you have better odds of seeing them. Simply put - "Follow the food."
Our opening photo (above) shows some muskrats near an opening in the ice at the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge. If there aren't any openings in a body of water lake that, you aren't going to see them. They're tucked away in their lodges, where the temperature can get up to about 60 degrees fahrenheit. But they don't hibernate, so you can see them on Pond 5 at the refuge when the little mammals dig up aquatic plants underwater and bring them up to eat.
Raptors such as hawks are on power poles next to open fields, where they can catch a glimpse of a dark-colored field mouse in the snow. Of course, it's easy to see the smaller birds if you have a backyard feeder. Bob has seen quite a few Cassin's Finches (photo below) in his Lolo neighborhood. The most seen in the Christmas Bird Count were in Hamilton, when 188 of the finches were spotted.
By the way, this weekend is the Great Backyard Bird Count (February 12-15). People in 194 countries take part. You can, too. Check it out at the birdcount.org website. And keep the birdfeeder full. You might be surprised with the numbers of birds you might see. And if you have some European Mountain Ash trees in the vicinity, check 'em out. The birds love the berries.
So, if you don't like the cold, check out the neighborhood. You might even hear an owl hooting during the dark of the night. It's all out there in every season in Montana. The Bitterroot Outdoor Journal is heard Wednesdays about 7:45 a.m. as part of the Bitterroot Morning newscast on NewsTalk 1240 KLYQ, www.klyq.com and the KLYQ cellphone app.