Metcalf Wildlife Refuge Has Sandhill Cranes
You can see them strolling along some of the dikes between the ponds at the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge - Sandhill Cranes. Making their rolling "garoo" bird calls, they seen pretty content.
Add them to the 120 bird species seen so far this year in Ravalli County. Bob Danley of the Bitterroot Outdoor Journal also noticed the calls of the yellow-headed blackbird (photo below). It sounds like a hoarse train horn - kind of a "waaaa" sound. Bob has always advised people to listen when you're bird-watching. The sounds will lead you to the birds.
But, be careful where you step. The Mound-building Ants are, or course, building mounds. Usually, they're up against a tree trunk (photo below), but they can spread out underground with lots of tunnels. The red-and-black ants are some of the larger ants around western Montana. And, yes, they can bite.
The wildflowers are just now starting to bloom. In Western Montana, you can see Nineleaf Biscuitroot, Blue-eyed Mary, Shootingstar, Little Larkspur and Yellowbells (photo below). Yellowbells go through a color change in their short blooming period, and within a a few weeks, they'll be going to seed. But, they'll be replaced by a great variety of colorful little bloomers.
Bob has more on his websites, which include a youtube channel called pheobastria. We also talk to him at 7:45 a.m. on Wednesdays at 1240 KLYQ Radio in Hamilton or on the web at www.klyq.com. Get out there and enjoy our great Montana springtime.