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Tree swallows and other birds arrive for spring at Lee Metcalf Refuge

Published On: Mar 19 2013 07:36:15 PM MDT   Updated On: Mar 19 2013 09:03:31 PM MDT

It's the last day of winter, but scores of migratory birds have already arrived at their summer home at the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge.

Birdwatchers got an early glimpse of the tree swallows. They arrived five days ago. There are about 35 of them, so far.

Patrick Chaplin snapped the photo you see above. Chaplin's photo is of a number of tree swallows lined up resting on a fence. It's an unusual picture because they're usually darting in fast motion.

It's from his "Life in the Bitterroot" community Facebook page.

"It's hard to get a good shot of them in flight," said Chaplin, "they fly so erratic, but they're cool little birds."

"They're taking advantage of the midges that are hatching," said the refuge's Bob Danley.

Danley has also seen plenty of robins, an immature bald eagle, at least eight species of waterfowl, including mallards, northern pintails, common golden eye, and trumpeter and tundra swans.

Danley said most songbirds won't arrive until spring is more than just a promise.

Welcome Back Waterfowl Day is scheduled Saturday, March 30, from 10 until 2 at the refuge headquarters and Wildfowl Lane near Stevensville.

Call 777-5552 or you can visit their website here.