As winter starts to lose its grip, the birds are picking areas for nesting activities in the area. This week's Bitterroot Outdoor Journal (heard Wednesday mornings at 7:45 on 1240 AM KLYQ and www.klyq.com) had examples of some home-building by the birds.

Bob Danley said avian action is happening along the Bitterroot River, including Wood Ducks, Bohemian Waxwings and soon to arrive - bluebirds. He also noted Red-winged Blackbird songs (photo below) and saw some Dark-eyed Juncos starting to nest.

The larger birds have found their usual favorite nesting places, including the Great Horned Owl. The photo above shows how well the coloring of the bird blends in with the cottonwood tree it has selected. You can hear them at twilight as the "dating" goes on, starting about 6 p.m. Bob says your chances of finding nesting owls are better on the north end of the Bitterroot and in the Missoula valley. They lay eggs from mid-February through mid-March.

Bald Eagles have claimed their high perches. Those large Black Cottonwoods near the river are strong enough to support the weight. Good places to view include Burnt Fork Creek south of the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge and Maclay Flat near Missoula (see photo below).

You can also find the Red Crossbill, which nests this month, too. They are near trees that have cones. They are expert at getting seeds out of those cones.

Don't forget to keep your backyard bird feeder loaded. You'll see lots of returning birds in the coming weeks as spring SLOWLY approaches.

Red-winged Blackbird singing away. (Bob Danley Photo)
Bald Eagle standing guard near nest. (Bob Danley Photo)

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