When I think about the "Dog Days of Summer," I imagine the image of a big ol' dog resting on a porch on a hot afternoon. That's not the origin of the name, says Bob Danley of the Bitterroot Outdoor Journal. At this time of year, the constellation Orion (the hunter) appears over the eastern horizon at night, along with the bright Dog Star, Sirius, just below. That starts the "Dog Days," according to Bob's research.

Back on Earth, this is a good time to hear all the different bird calls in the mornings. Bob noticed 13 species from his back yard, just by listening. As we get into migration season, look for flocks of Black-billed Magpies, communal roosting of Turkey Vultures in trees, and large groupings of Eastern Kingbirds, who are preparing for their flight to South America next month (photo below).

Two species of Wood-Nymph butterflies are now flying. Both the Common and Small Wood-Nymphs have "eyes" on their wings (photo below). And for dragonflies, the Northern Spreadwing can be found in wet areas that don't have fish. Elsewhere, Columbian Ground Squirrels have already buttoned up for winter hibernation, but you can still see the Yellow-pine Chipmunk and the Red-tailed Chipmunk (photos below) in the surrounding woods. Wildflowers still blooming include Explorer's Gentian and Curlycup Gumweed (photos below). The Bitterroot Outdoor Journal can be heard Wednesdays during the Bitterroot Morning newscast on 1240 AM KLYQ and klyq.com.

Eastern Kingbird. (Bob Danley Photo)
See the dark spots on the Wood-nymph butterflies. (bob Danley photos)
(left)Yellow-pine chipmunk. (right) Red-tailed chipmunk. (Bob Danley Photo)
Explorer's Gentian wildflower. (Bob Danley photo)
Curlycup Gumweed wildflower. (Bob Danley photo)