This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
State wildlife officials have added a new species to their Watchable Wildlife event schedule, and this one will have wildlife enthusiasts going looney to see the source of the call of the common loon; a sound many describe as somewhat somber and some call downright eerie.
The first Loon Watch is being held Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon at Steinaker State Park, about five miles north of Vernal on US Highway 191.
Ron Stewart has been watching common loons, which are not so common in Utah, for more than 25 years.
"A migratory population of loons passes through the Uinta Basin every spring," Stewart, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) conservation outreach manager, said. "They've been fairly consistent, arriving just after ice-off."
According to Stewart, more than 200 loons have been spotted on different reservoirs in the Uinta Basin on a single day in past years. Steinaker seems to be a hot spot.
The Loon Watch is free and will be held at a pull-out on U.S. 191 on the east side of the reservoir. Wildlife officials will have binoculars and spotting scopes available to help people spot the birds and get a close-up view.
There is no registration required to participate in the Loon Watch. Call the DWR's Northern Region office at 435-781-9453.
O Find out more about the Watchable Wildlife program online. > bit.ly/watchable