A Northern Shrike (photo above) is swooping down on this week's Bitterroot Outdoor Journal. Bob Danley reported the songbird is about 10 inches in length and is no friend to smaller birds or small mammals, which are part of its diet. Bob calls it the "missing link" between songbirds and hawks. With black wings, tail and mask on a grey body, you'll see it on very top of trees. Its usual flight path brings it swooping low to the ground and then up onto a high perch. The Shrike is around the Bitterroot and Western Montana during the winter and usually shows up in the year-ending Christmas Bird Count.

Down on the ground, Bob noticed a Larch Waxy Cap mushroom, which has 41 species in the Pacific Northwest. It has a reddish orange cap with a raised dark center (see photo below). It's about 4 inches tall with a 2 inch cap.

Another lichen to check out is the Monk's Hood Lichen (photos below). About two and half inches in diameter, it crowds onto Ponderosa Pine branches. The gray-green lichen grows in flattened branches with flared ends.

An evergreen shrub called the Snowbrush Ceanothus (photo below) is found in areas that have burned recently. We also know it as Buckbrush. The seeds only germinate with fire and are found in the soil for years. It can be up to five feet tall in open forests. Bob's weekly report is heard on 1240 KLYQ AM Radio, at www.klyq.com and on our cellphone app at about 7:45 a.m. on Wednesdays during the half-hour Bitterroot Morning Newscast. One of Bob's websites is www.imagewildlife.com.

Larch Waxy Cap mushroom. (Bob Danley Photo)
Monk's-hood Lichen on a branch. (Bob Danley Photo)
Buckbrush. (Bob Danley Photo)
Northern Shrike, near and far. (Bob Danley Photos)