Springtime brings out new creatures above and below. Bob Danley of the Bitterroot Outdoor Journal noticed some Painted Turtles in ponds at the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge near Stevensville. And up in the sky, Peregrine Falcons can be seen zooming around.

The turtles are munching on pondweed, worms and snails - slowly. Meanwhile, the Peregrine Falcons are starting their nests in the Bitterroot Valley canyons such as Mill Creek, and are feasting on other birds (including ducks) for their meals. The falcon in the sky has pointed wings and tends to flap in a "rowing" action most of the time. And they are fast.

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Also in the sky are the returning Osprey, who fly with wings kinked in the shape of an "M." Of course, you can see them up close at the Metcalf, where they have a nesting platform (photo below) right along Wildfowl Lane. They enjoy fishing in the ponds there.

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Osprey at nest platform. (Mike Daniels photo)
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The brightest bird in the area right now is the Mountain Bluebird. Those 7-inch-long birds are along the valley floor. The males are bright turquoise (photo below) and the females are grey with a hint of blue.

mountain bluebird
Mountain bluebird on a post. (Bob Danley photo)
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You can see Cinnamon Teal ducks on the Metcalf ponds, too. the males are colored brick red, while the females are brown (photo below). They like to float along the shorelines in the dense vegetation.

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A pair of Cinnamon Teal ducks. (Bob Danley photo)
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The wildflowers are liking the warmer conditions and sunshine. Besides the early-blooming Sagebrush Buttercup, Bob spotted Bulbous Woodland-Star with its star-shaped white flowers, the Cous Biscuitroot with little yellow flowers, the Spring Draba, and Yellowbells with their hanging bell-shaped yellows flowers - looking a little like a streetlight. (photos below)

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Four early spring wildflowers. (Bob Danley photos)
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The Bitterroot Outdoor Journal is heard Wednesday mornings at about 7:45 a.m. on 1240 KLYQ radio and at www.klyq.com, along with the free cellphone KLYQ app. Spring is coming on strong in western Montana.

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