Bob Danley had positive news on this week's Bitterroot Outdoor Journal - spring is only a month away! That's the official start of spring, but he knows that the signs of spring happen earlier than that - including wildflowers. One of the earliest is the Sagebrush Buttercup, which even now has green leaves poking through the pine needles (and snow) on the forest floor (see photos below). It will flower in early March and some will be at the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge, northeast of Stevensville. There are hundreds of wildflowers in our area - the book to get is Wildflowers of Montana by Donald Anthony Schiemann.

The cold weather has reduced Bob's trips out and about, but he has had good luck with birds coming into his yard to check out his birdfeeder. The Evening Grosbeak (photo above) is one of the species visiting. It's 8 inches long with a large greenish-yellow bill and the males have a yellow body color, while the females are greyish in color.

The small birds at the feeder sometimes attract the larger birds that prey on them. Bob saw an adult female Sharp-shinned Hawk in the trees around his house. (photos below). It has a squarish tail, small rounded head and is not as large as other hawks. Females are about the size of a robin.

The fungi is just waiting for snow to disappear. Mid-March is the time for the Pig's Ear mushroom, which is about 3 inches in size after it reaches maturity. It's like a cup at first, then flattens out on wet soil or woody debris. (Photo below)

The awakening of spring is approaching, Bob reminds us. His report is on 1240 AM KLYQ radio, at www.klyq.com and on the free KLYQ cellphone app on Wednesday mornings at about 7:45 a.m. during our Bitterroot Morning newscast.

Two views of Sagebrush Buttercup, before it flowers. (Bob Danley Photo)
Sharp-shinned Hawk. (Bob Danley Photo)
Pig's Ear fungi. (Bob Danley Photos)

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