When the sun shines in early spring in Montana, people notice the amazing rebound of outdoor life in nature and Bob Danley has documented a few features in this week's Bitterroot Outdoor Journal (heard Wednesday mornings on 1240 KLYQ during the 7:30 a.m. Bitterroot Morning newscast.)

Bob saw a great variety of waterfowl at the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge (where you don't even need to get out of your car!). There are quite a few turnouts on the county road that passes beside the larger ponds. Bob saw American Wigeons (see photo above), Sandhill Cranes, and some Snow Geese and Great Blue Herons. Elsewhere in the valley, you can hear and see Tree Swallows. Their call is a "weet-trit-weet." The Red-naped and Williamson's Sapsuckers are back in the valley, along with the Spotted Towhee, which hides in shrubbery and sings a song that sounds like "drink your tea." The Turkey Vultures have returned to parts of the valley. They are soaring overhead.

Wildflowers include yellowbells (see photo below) on south-face grassland slopes, and the leaves of Glacier Lily and Prairie Smoke are up, gathering energy from the sun for later blooms. Looking at trees, the Willow and Aspen buds are opening. On sunny days, look for Milbert's Tortoiseshell butterflies (see photo below). Get outdoors, maintain your social distancing and see what's out there!

tortoiseshell butterfly
Milbert's Tortoiseshell butterfly. (Bob Danley Photo)
Yellowbell wildflowers. (Bob Danley Photo)