Bitterroot Outdoor Journal – Holiday Colors In The Wild
Annually, Bob Danley of the Bitterroot Outdoor Journal looks around for Christmas colors in wildlife for the season.
The top green-colored entry in this year's gallery is the Green-winged Teal, which is a small "dabbling" duck - one that will dip down into the water to find plants and bugs. So, you can see its tailfeathers often, sticking up out of the water, as it looks around underwater. A good place to see them is the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge, northeast of Stevensville. Wildfowl Lane is a county road that goes right past the biggest ponds of the refuge, so you can easily see the birds. And, for the most part, the birds are not bothered by the cars. The Green-winged Teal is the smallest dabbling duck in North America, about 14 inches long and it has a green face with a surrounding reddish head. They're here through the winter. Quite a few were here in 2005, when the Christmas Bird Count found 114 of them.
The Violet Toothed Polypore mushroom is on our colorful list, which can be found on dead trees, or cut sections of trunks (see photo below). The Polypore looks like a "Turkey Tail" mushroom and has a green, velvety cap with underside pores which are violet toned to brownish colors.
And, the red and green of Kinnikinnick (also called bearberry) is out there in the wild. The red berries last throughout the winter at most elevations here in the Bitterroot Valley. And, yes, Bob says bears do like the flavor of the berries. After all, the huckleberries are gone by this time of year.
The Bitterroot Outdoor Journal is heard on Wednesday mornings during the Bitterroot Morning newscast at about 7:45 a.m. It's on KLYQ 1240 AM and www.klyq.com and on the free KLYQ cellphone app.