A bald eagle is just one of the birds you might see this winter in Western Montana. However, as Bob Danley says in this week's Bitterroot Outdoor Journal, there are fewer species to see, which makes identification a bit easier.

The winter is good for finding birds near bodies of water or frozen wetland for waterbirds and the conifer forests for little birds, because the ones that hang around the valley are munching on pinecones. And you might see a bird that only visits in the winter. However, if you want a guaranteed excursion in the cold - check out the Christmas Bird Count:

  • Hamilton - December 18, meet at at 7:30 a.m. at Teller Wildlife refuge north of Corvallis for the bird count centered at the Hamilton airport.
  • Missoula - Also December 18 - call Larry Weaks for details at 406 540-3064.
  • Stevensville - December 26 - call Dave Lockman at 406-381-7679 for details. That count includes the Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge.
  • The nice thing about the bird counts is that experienced birders will be there and they can give you tips and identify the flyin' critters right on the spot. Plus, they usually have things like spotting scopes that make your viewing easier. And they are really friendly people.

    Get our free mobile app

    Of course, if you go out in the winter, be ready for cold conditions and slippery paths. A little more work to get out there. Of course, you can bring the birds in to your area with a well-supplied bird feeder. This might be the year to get one set up.

    great-spangled fritillary
    You might see this with the right flowers in your garden. (Bob Danley photo)
    loading...

    Bob is already thinking about summertime and the return of butterflies. You should, too. Get out that seed catalogue and get ready to plant some butterfly-friendly plants. There are quite a few with nectar that butterflies crave. Here are a few Annuals - Cosmos, Lantana, Mexican Sunflower, Verbena and Ageratum. Perennials include Anise Hyssop, Blazing Star, butterfly weed, Coneflower, Jupiters Beard and Lavender. Order the seeds now, follow the planting instructions and be on the lookout for flittering wings this summer.

    The Bitterroot Outdoor Journal is heard Wednesday mornings about 7:45 a.m. on the Bitterroot Morning half-hour newscast at 1240 AM KLYQ and www.klyq.com. Stay warm!

    LOOK: Route 66’s quirkiest and most wonderful attractions state by state

    Stacker compiled a list of 50 attractions--state by state--to see along the drive, drawing on information from historic sites, news stories, Roadside America, and the National Park Service. Keep reading to discover where travelers can get their kicks on Route 66.

    The Most Popular Christmas Movies of All-Time