This week's Bitterroot Outdoor Journal recommends the Bitterroot Valley's great Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge northeast of Stevensville. Throughout the year, you can find birds of all types. They're attracted to the open land and usually ice-free ponds. And humans are attracted by the easy access to view the wild birds. Bob Danley said that this week he saw 16 species of waterfowl within a half hour. Wildfowl Lane is a county road that takes you right next to the major ponds on the refuge. Bob took a shadowy photo of a couple of ducks for you to identify. Here it is. The answer is at the end of this article.

Identify the ducks. (Bob Danley Photo)

Out in the woods, in areas where there's no snow, you can find some mushrooms that have taken advantage of the moisture and some recent warming. Bob saw Rabbit Ear mushrooms (photo below). There are eight species in the Pacific Northwest and they don't have a stalk, but they have a distinctive yellowish-brown cup. Meanwhile, there's always lichen around, no matter the weather. In the Bitterroot, you can find Flattened Thornbush Lichen, found on Ponderosa Pine twigs and are conveniently at about eye level on the lower parts of the tree (photo below).

The Yellow-pine Chipmunk is finishing up its food cache for hibernation. Bob read that a usual stockpile for the little guy is between 14,000-68,000 seeds and bulbs. The weight of that cache is usually less than half a pound.

The Bitterroot Outdoor Journal is heard on Wednesday mornings about 7:45 a.m. on KLYQ 1240 AM radio and at www.klyq.com. Oh yes, the mystery ducks pictured above are Ruddy Ducks.

Rabbit Ear fungi. (Bob Danley provided photo)
Cetraria Merrillii Lichen. (Bob Danley Photo)
Yellow Pine Chipmunk, getting ready for hibernation. (Bob Danley photo)