February is just starting, but so are the nesting behaviors of some birds in Western Montana. Bob Danley of KLYQ's Bitterroot Outdoor Journal says that Great Horned Owls are hooting for pairing and territory boundaries. When the courtship is over, the eggs being laid from mid-February through mid-March. Broken tree trunks are great for the owls, who like the camouflage (see photo above).

The Bald Eagle has large stick nests, usually within a mile of creeks or, in our area, the Bitterroot River. Old growth Black Cottonwood trees are favorites for the large birds. On the opposite end of the scale, the little Red Crossbill actually can breed any time of year, but they have been known to nest in February. A female has yellow coloring and males have red. Their call is a "kip-kip-kip" sound. Look closely and you can see the specialized crossed bill, used for getting seeds out of cones.

red crossbill
The little bill doesn't quite line up. But there's a reason. (Bob Danley Photo)

Bob's book recommendation this week is "The Overstory" by Richard Powers. It's a fairly new collection of nine stories combining non-fiction nature with fictional human characters. The Bitterroot Outdoor Journal is heard Thursdays and Fridays during the KLYQ Bitterroot Morning newscast from 7:30 a.m. to 8 a.m.

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