The spectacle that is Western Montana spring is happening all around. Bob Danley of the Bitterroot Outdoor Journal said to know the habitat you're planning to visit to get your expectations in line. But really, expect the unexpected.

So far, 173 species of birds have been recorded in Ravalli County so far this year and many of those this week are shorebirds, who like the muddy shores of the Lee Metcalf National Refuge. Some will stay and nest but most are on their way north. The hummingbirds are back, including the Black-chinned Hummingbird. Flycatchers like the Kingbirds are back and the eight different species have eight different types of calls. Bob always recommends you listen for the birds and follow the sound.

Other birds in the area - six species of swallows, the Hermit and Swainson's Thrush, and seven types of sparrows - Savannah, Lark, Lincoln's, Vesper, White-crowned, Chipping and Clay-colored.

Bob saw Western Tiger Swallowtail (photo below) and Brown Elfin (photo above) butterflies. The butterflies are usually found near mud puddles and around their favorite wildflowers. Oh, yeah - wildflowers. The list goes on and on as 42 species are now blooming. Bob picked three to feature in photos (below). The Nuttall's Violet has yellow flowers with some purple veins, the Roundleaf Violet also has yellow flowers, purple veins with evergreen leaves. However, the Sand Violet has blue flowers, but again with purple lines. The Bitterroot Outdoor Journal is heard Wednesday mornings about 7:45 a.m. during the Bitterroot Morning newscast on 1240 KLYQ and at klyq.com. Don't forget that free cellphone app, too. You can take Bob's photos along with you on your nature hike.

Western Tiger Swallowtail butterfly. (Bob Danley)
Nuttalls violet wildflower. (Bob Danley Photo)
Roundleaf Violet. (Bob Danley Photo)
Sand Violets. (Bob Danley Photo)

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