The main migrations of larger birds are happening, according to Bob Danley of the Bitterroot Outdoor Journal this week. Cranes, geese, hawks and others can be seen probably from your own back yard, if you just look up. Bob saw four Lewis's Woodpeckers flying over his Lolo home. Keep your binoculars handy this time of year and you'll be able to zoom in and determine what you're seeing.

Meanwhile, in the dense bushes and trees of western Montana, lots of songbirds are being noisy. So, follow the chirping. Binoculars are handy here, too. There are some areas to examine to ID the bird:

  • Lines or strips on the face that look like moustaches, eyebrows and eye lines.
  • The top of the bird's head (the crown) can be one-colored or striped with another color.
  • Looking at the eyes, some birds have a colored ring, called an eyering.
  • Between the base of the bill and the eye is the Lore. It might be colored or marked differently than the nearby feathers.
  • Below and behind the eye is the Auricular or cheek, where feathers usually cover the bird's ears.
  • Down near the ground are the few butterflies remaining this time of year. The Mylitta Crescent (photo below) is a little inch-and-a-half long guy with black lines around a yellow-orange wing and creamy colored square pattern below. Trails, streams and creeks are places to see it and they fly on into October.

    The Variable Darner Dragonfly (photo below) was hanging around the Ravalli County Fair last weekend. It's around 3 inches long and flies almost constantly in almost any size of wetland.

    Plants this week include the Smooth Blue Aster wildflower, which can be up to 32 inches tall and has upper leaves with bluish green waxy surface with a red midvein. Butterflies like this plant, too. The Tamarack Jack mushroom is visible in places. so is the Western Painted Suillus. Both are about 5 to 6 inches wide and can be found in the forest. The Bitterroot Outdoor Journal is heard Wednesday mornings at 7:45 a.m. on 1240 KLYQ AM radio and on

    crescent butterfly
    Mylitta Crescent butterfly. (Bob Danley Photo)
    blue aster
    Smooth Blue Aster. (Bob Danley Photo)
    Jack mushroom
    Tamarack Jack mushroom. (Bob Danley Photo)
    variable darner
    Variable Darner dragonfly. (Bob Danley Photo)

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