If you've got a Mountain Ash tree in your neighborhood, you're probably seeing Cedar and Bohemian Waxwing birds among the branches. Bob Danley of the Bitterroot Outdoor Journal has seen a few, which are usually hanging around this time of year in western Montana. The Bohemian is larger than the Cedar Waxwing - both are about 8 inches in size. (see photo below)

waxwing birds
Cedar and Bohemian Waxwings. (Bob Danley Photo)

By the way, you might be able to add them to the birds you see during this month's Great Backyard Bird Count. It's February 18-21 and all you need to do is watch birds for at least 15 minutes - at least once over the four days. Bob says that last year, over 300,000 people were part of the count and recorded over 6,000 species. Pretty easy to do, so check the details at their website.

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Out and about in the Bitterroot Valley, which has been warm enough to melt some ice on the ponds, you can see the Great Blue Heron. (photo below) It's huge and can be seen at Pond 6 of the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge. Wildfowl Lane goes right past the pond. Don't get out of your car (you'll spook the birds). Just relax and watch the birds.

Blue Heron at lunchtime. (Mike Daniels photo, Townsquare Media)
Blue Heron at lunchtime. (Mike Daniels photo, Townsquare Media)

The little Wilson's Snipe (photo below) is a shorebird that can be found in shallow water on mudflats or, again, along Pond 6 at the Metcalf. They've got long bills for digging for aquatic invertebrates.

wilsons snipe
Wilson's Snipe at Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge. (Bob Danley photo)

And, to wrap up this week's report, the great variety of lichen on Ponderosa Pine trees includes the Broad Wrinkle Lichen (photo below). It's only 2 inches in size and is on the lower branches. The color is what Bob calls "apple fritter brown."

broad wrinkle lichen
Broad Wrinkle lichen. (Bob Danley Photo)

The main message we give you each week is "get out there" and see what cool natural things surround us here in the Bitterroot Valley. In fact, no matter where you live you should slow down a bit and experience the natural neighborhood. The Bitterroot Outdoor Journal is heard Wednesday mornings during the 7:30 a.m. Bitterroot Morning newscasts on 1240 AM KLYQ and at www.klyq.com.

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