Bitterroot Outdoor Journal – Not Too Early for Butterflies
The sudden switch from our recent winter blast to a pre-spring weather week might bring out a butterfly or two in the Bitterroot Valley. So says Bob Danley of the KLYQ Bitterroot Outdoor Journal this week. The Milbert's Tortoiseshell butterfly (pictured above) has been seen as early as March 15th in some years. Bob said the butterfly "winters over" as an adult and can be out and about if there's sunshine and temperature in the 60s. You can find them near those nasty sticky nettles in the valley.
There's a migration going on - but it's to the North. The Common Redpoll (photo below) is a little 5-inch long bird that is nomadic in the winter, usually found around birch trees. But in the spring, they head to their preferred nesting areas in boreal forests to the north. If you have Niger seeds in your bird feeder, you might see some of the little birds stoking up for the northward flight.
Coming into the valley will be usual migrating birds, with early arrivals expected by the Northern Pintail ducks. Check out the big ponds at the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife refuge near Stevensville to see them. Mountain Bluebirds should be returning in the open grasslands and near the Bitterroot River. The Bluebirds and the Say's Phoebe birds have a whistled call. You'll hear it and then you can follow the sounds to see them.
The male Columbian Ground Squirrels are about ready to pop up. Don't worry, you'll usually see lots of them in the open areas again this year. The Bitterroot Outdoor Journal is heard on 1240 AM KLYQ, on the KLYQ cellphone app and at www.klyq.com on Wednesdays about 7:45 a.m. on the Bitterroot Morning newscast. Check out more interesting facts and photos at one of Bob Danley's sites.