Kingbird Reigns Supreme – In Its Own Mind
The migration activity has settled down in Western Montana, and Bob Danley of the Bitterroot Outdoor Journal said that EBird noted only four additional species this week, making a total of 212 seen so far this year in Ravalli County.
One of those birds is the Western Kingbird (photo above). The Eastern Kingbird is more common in western Montana, but the Western Kingbird is here, too. They are mainly are on the valley grassland and you can often see them perched on overhead wires. And they aren't that big - about 8 to 9 inches. As you can see in the photo, the Western Kingbird has a yellow belly, pale gray head, white chin and there's a bit of white on the outer tail feathers.
The birds are often seen out in the open. They are very territorial. When you see a hawk being hassled by a smaller bird, it might just be a Kingbird, protecting its territory. You might say that often the King(bird) is not amused. The bird has a "Kit" call note. They are fearless.
Closer to the ground, Bob spotted a spotted butterfly - the Edith's Checkerspot (photo below). He has seen 25 species of butterflies so far this season in the area. And on the sunny days, be aware of the dragonflies along the rivers and ponds.
Six more wildflower species are blooming, including Montana's State Flower, the Bitterroot (photo below). Others that brightening up the landscape are Blue-eyed Grass, Clustered Broomrape, Early Coralroot, Lanceleaf Stonecrop, Pallid Indian Paintbrush, Shaggy Fleabane, Spotted Coralroot and Tall Bluebells. So far, 87 species have gone into flowering phase - some for only a very short time.
And, looking down, the fungi have enjoyed the recent moisture. Waxcaps are orange and yellow. You can also see Rabbit Ears and the fan-like Thelephora Terrestris (photo below), which is dark brown with a white fringe.
Be very careful around the overflowing streams and rivers around the state. We recommend that you stay off the river for a while. If you do get out on the water (on a pond or lake) wear an approved lifejacket.
The Bitterroot Outdoor Journal is on 1240 KLYQ AM radio and www.klyq.com Wednesdays at about 7:45 a.m. Bob also has some interesting websites, including a youtube location.