Bitterroot Outdoor Journal – Birds and Muskrats
One of the more entertaining birds you can watch in the Bitterroot Valley is the American Dipper. It's our only aquatic songbird and one of the places you can see it is the Stevensville Bridge area. Look out on the water and you'll see the little songbird. But keep watching and you'll see it disappear under the water and then come back up as it catches insects to eat, such as the one in its beak in the photo above. As Bob says, if you see it, it's a "slam dunk" that you'll want to keep watching. Another bird, or flock of birds, that you'll hear before seeing it is the Chickadee. These birds move fast through wooded areas and and feed mainly in the morning. Besides the Black-capped Chickadees, you can hear and see Canyon Wrens, House Finches and the Townsend's Solitaire. A good book to help you identify the fliers is "Better Birding Tips, Tools and Concepts for the Field by George L. Armstead and Brain L. Sullivan.
Bob also saw a muskrat the the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge northeast of Stevensville. the swimmers are seen in the ponds and are sometimes out on the ice (see photo below). They are much smaller than similar-colored beavers and their tails are a lot smaller. They're active during the winter months. They can stay underwater for 15 minutes at a time and their lodge temperatures are usually around 60 degrees in the winter, no matter how cold it is outside.