The colors are changing in Western Montana and the Bitterroot Valley is already showing off some brilliant shades of leaves. Bob Danley of the Bitterroot Outdoor Journal said that as trees shut down for the winter, the green chlorophyll production stops, leaving pigments like carotenids in the leaves, which then turn orange and yellow. The red leaves come from anthocyanins, which are produced by some trees in the fall as sunscreen and antifreeze. Scientific American has a story about how moisture affects the color change time. The peak of colors in our area (according to Old Farmers Almanac) is October 5-21. Closer to the ground are the Harebell wildflowers which have blue, bell-shaped flowers (see photo below).

Also look in the sky for migrating hawks - golden eagles, harriers, turkey vultures and more. Bob's reports are heard Thursday mornings on KLYQ's Bitterroot Morning newscast at about 7:50 a.m. Of course, it is online at the same time at klyq.com and on your cellphone with free KLYQ app - so listen live.

Harebell wildflower. (Bob Danley photo)