The Missoula Christmas Bird Count numbers have been tabulated and observers saw 89 species, which is higher than normal. Good job, birders!

Bob Danley of the Bitterroot Outdoor Journal said that the valley floor and benches are good places to see hawks on the power poles. We mentioned some identification details about Red-tailed hawks last week, and to continue those tips - they are easy to separate from other "Buteo" species of hawks by a lack of feathering on legs. (photos below)

two hawks
Rufous hawk on the left and Red-tailed hawk on the left. (Bob Danley photos)

The differences are on the leg. You should always have a pair of binoculars with you to spot the differences easily. Binoculars are really essential for viewing any Montana vista, for that that matter. Don't worry about which binocular brands are best, just get a pair and look.

Six species of winter finches are seen at backyard feeders, and that includes Merlin and Sharp-shin finches. You can always find ducks and geese on open water and rivers around here. Bob saw 13 species of waterfowl last week.

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Looking at Quaking Aspen trees, you can easily see the Hooded Rosette Lichen (photos below). It is only an inch in diameter and is whitish grey with green tones. It is widespread and common in the Pacific Northwest.

Hooded Rosette Lichen. (Bob Danley photos)
Hooded Rosette Lichen, close-up on the right. (Bob Danley photos)

We get involved with specific things to see outdoors on the Bitterroot Outdoor Journal, but you should also just enjoy being there. Japanese health experts encourage Shinrin-yoku or "forest bathing," where you simply let the environment flow around you. Walk slowly, touch and smell the forest; use all your senses to smell, listen and feel even the temperature changes from space to space. Relax and be in the moment. Deborah Goslin of Stevensville is a local guide for this experience. Michell McConnaha wrote a great article about it in the Ravalli Republic newspaper.

Again, just get out there and see what's around us. The Bitterroot Outdoor Journal is heard Wednesdays at 7:45 a.m. during the Bitterroot Morning newscast on 1240 AM KLYQ radio or at

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