A typical Christmas mistletoe is nothing like the mistletoe that infests trees around Western Montana. The "kissing" mistletoe is European Mistletoe - one of 1,500 world species, according to Bob Danley in this week's Bitterroot Outdoor Journal. They are all poisonous and are "hemi-parasitic," which means they are partially dependent on a host plant for food. In Montana's case, they are on trees and can cause problems. Pictured above is the American Dwarf-mistletoe.

Audubon Christmas bird counts are underway. Bob reports that in the initial reports from the Hamilton bird count last Saturday, December 14, spotters found 4 owl species, two that were uncommon for the area. There were also three falcon species spotted. So far this year, Ravalli County has noted 278 species of birds and Missoula County has reported 301. The Stevensville Bird Count is December 28 and will again start this year at the Stevensville Ranger Station on North Main Street. It includes the Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge, where you might see a swan or two. Bob included photos (see below) of two different swans. Bird count totals from around the country can be found at the "ebird" website. We're giving Bob a couple of weeks off for the holidays. Merry Christmas from KLYQ's Bitterroot Outdoor Journal.

Similar, but different, swans. (Bob Danley photos)