In the winter, the larger raptors rule the skies in Western Montana and the Bitterroot Valley. Bob Danley of the Bitterroot Outdoor Journal has seen several species of hawks perched on poles around the area and has tips this week on how to identify a Red-tailed Hawk (photos below)

hawk on pole
Red-tailed hawk from the front and back. (Bob Danley photo)
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When it's flying, look for a large, bulky, short flared tail. The Red-tailed Hawk soars without much flapping and the lead wing edge is straight. When it's perched, look for dirty white coloring underneath, with brown feathering on the back, dark feathers are vertically streaked and form a brownish "belly" band, brown feathers on head form a hood, and, of course, a red tail.

Out in the woods, you can also easily see some lichen on tree trunks. The lichen just uses the tree as a shelf, and gets its nutrition from the air around it. The tree is not harmed, Bob says. The Brown-eyed Sunshine Lichen (photo below) can be found on Ponderosa Pine branches.

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Brown-eyed Sunshine Lichen. (Bob Danley photos)
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The lichen is bright yellow in color (easy to see) and is rounded, shaped like a loose/wrinkled leaf lettuce and is only about an inch and a half in size. The brown eyes are where the spores are released. And, again, it is not a parasite on the tree.

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Bob Also saw some Winter finches flocking up. He saw over a hundred Common Redpoll birds on the bench area southeast of Stevensville. They are also visiting backyard feeders. Pine Siskins are at the feeders, too. Both like the black sunflower seeds and the thistle, too.

Bob's reports are heard at 7:45 a.m. on Wednesdays at 1240 AM KLYQ Radio and online at www.klyq.com. Check out one of his suggested websites, too.

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